State police raise new questions on Kane claim

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane, left, along with Special Deputy Attorney General H. Geoffery Moulton Jr., talks about a report into the Jerry Sandusky child molestation investigation, during a news conference Monday in Harrisburg.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane, left, along with Special Deputy Attorney General H. Geoffery Moulton Jr., talks about a report into the Jerry Sandusky child molestation investigation, during a news conference Monday in Harrisburg. (BRADLEY C. BOWER / Associated Press)
Posted: July 04, 2014

In a dramatic news conference two weeks ago, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane strongly suggested that two credible victims could have been spared harm if the state's investigation of child sex abuser Jerry Sandusky had moved more urgently.

One day later, Kane's aides acknowledged that she misspoke about one of the victims - and that prosecutors in place before she took office had used the man's case to convict Sandusky.

And on Wednesday, state police raised new questions about Kane's claim that a second credible victim was assaulted while the investigation dragged on.

They said Kane's current chief of staff, veteran state prosecutor Bruce Beemer, did not support bringing charges based on this victim.

In response to questions from The Inquirer, top officials of the state police also said that Kane and her top deputies discussed this man's claim, among others, at a meeting in 2013 - and that her aides and state police advised that his case and the rest should not be prosecuted.

The statement challenging her claims - issued by a spokeswoman for State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan - seemed the latest indication of how the attorney general has become isolated from many of her law-enforcement colleagues.

On Tuesday, leaders of the association for Pennsylvania's 67 county district attorneys sharply criticized Kane, as has Seth Williams, the district attorney in Philadelphia and a Democrat like her.

In a response late Wednesday, a spokesman for Kane said it had been the second victim's choice not to proceed with charges. He and other victims were satisfied that Sandusky had been convicted and imprisoned, the spokesman said.

Without providing details about the victim, spokesman J.J. Abbott said no one should question the victims of Sandusky whose cases had not been examined in court.

"The decision not to bring charges on these victims' allegations should in no way be perceived as a judgment on their credibility," his statement said.

Kane first raised the specter of two new victims during her June 23 news conference to unveil a long-awaited report she had commissioned on the Sandusky investigation, which started under then-Attorney General Tom Corbett.

Her remarks about the men - accusers whose claims were not mentioned in the report - seemed to upstage the consultant's findings - among them a repudiation of the 2012 campaign theme by Kane that politics probably bogged down the Sandusky probe because Corbett, a Republican, was running for governor.

At the news conference, Kane said she would not comment on any credibility assessments of accusers made during her predecessors' tenure overseeing the investigation. Of her own review, she said, "Unless we have anything to the contrary, we believe them."

Almost immediately, Noonan, a Corbett appointee, said he was baffled by Kane's statements about the two victims.

In his agency's response to questions from The Inquirer, the spokeswoman for Noonan confirmed that Kane was referring to two young men authorities publicly described only as Victim No. 9 and Victim No. 11.

While Kane said last month that neither victim was among those who figured in Sandusky's 2012 trial, her staff amended that a day later - saying Victim No. 9 had indeed testified at Sandusky's trial and that Sandusky was convicted of abusing him. He was the ninth victim among 10 cited in the criminal charges.

In their statement Wednesday, the state police said the other case cited by Kane involved Victim No. 11 - the number a reference to his having come forward after Sandusky had been charged with abusing the others.

According to the detailed statement, Beemer, Kane's closest aide as first deputy attorney general, has told state police that he did not support bringing charges on behalf of Victim No. 11. The statement said this was confirmed by Lt. Col. George Bivens, deputy commissioner of operations for the state police.

The state police said that Kane and top aides from her office attended a meeting on Aug. 1, 2013, in which Victim No. 11's case was discussed, along with those of other victims whose accusations had not been included in the 2012 trial. State police investigators also took part.

At that meeting, at Kane's Harrisburg office, the statement said, state police and attorney general's "investigators and prosecutors were in agreement to not file charges for a variety of reasons - that was the recommendation they provided to Attorney General Kane during that meeting."

The statement did not elaborate.

A source close to Kane said this meeting did not focus on credibility issues, but on the desire of victims to avoid taking part in a second Sandusky trial.

Beemer, who was chief of staff under Kane's immediate predecessor, Republican Linda Kelly, did not respond to a message seeking comment.

As for Victim No. 11, former state Deputy Attorney Frank G. Fina, who led the investigation into Sandusky before Kane took office, has said he had serious credibility issues.

Fina said the statement from the state police was accurate - that Beemer did not want Sandusky charged with assaulting Victim No. 11.

As for Victim No. 9, despite Kane's statement that he was abused in 2009, the precise year he was attacked is far from clear, according to interviews and documents.

In a court document spelling out the specific nature of Sandusky's crimes, prosecutors said Sandusky abused Victim No. 9 for the last time in 2008, months before the state investigation began.

On the stand in the trial, the young man said he could not say what year the abuse ended. In a more recent civil suit, he did say it continued into 2009. In any event, prosecutors say the abuse began in 2005 - three years before police had any inkling that Sandusky was an abuser.

Kane's office seemed to fault Fina for discussing the victims.

"Questioning the credibility of sexual abuse victims in a public forum is a dangerous precedent for law enforcement, as it could hinder future child abuse victims from coming forward for fear of not being believed," her spokesman's statement said.

Fina said Kane should never have cited the cases publicly.

"The fact that she did this is a complete tragedy," he said Wednesday. "There was no reason to fabricate this."

215-854-4821 @CraigRMcCoy

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