PATERNO ISN’T THE ONLY ONE WHO FAILED TO PROTECT THE CHILDREN

UPDATE July 24, 2012The National Collegiate Athletic Association’s $60 million penalty for Penn State’s football program has underscored the severity of the crimes committed by Jerry Sandusky, the assistant coach found guilty on 45 counts of sexual abuse of minors.

In addition, the NCAA officially stripped legendary coach Joe Paterno of his victories over the past decade, denouncing his role in a system-wide cover-up of the sex crimes which including including a rape of one boy in the team shower that was reported directly to him by an eyewitness.

I’m with NCAA executive chairman and Oregon State President Ed Ray who said yesterday, “The fundamental story of this horrific chapter should focus on the innocent children and the powerful people who let them down.” 

Joe Paterno’s bronze statue was removed the day before the NCAA stripped him of his victory record.

Joe Paterno isn’t the only one who failed to protect the children, so let’s not stop our public repudiation with the one guy who’s already dead.  Yes the president of Penn State was pressured to resign as was the chairman of Penn State’s Board of Trustees, but it shouldn’t stop there.

It is now time to hold accountable Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett who was attorney general during at least six of the 15 years Sandusky was molesting children and, as governor, was automatically given a seat on the Penn State Board of Trustees. 

BRINGING NEW MEANING TO “AT-RISK YOUTH”

Public records show that Tom Corbett, during his campaigns for attorney general and governor, received  $647,481.21 in political donations from present and former board members of The Second Mile, the non-profit charity for at-risk youth founded and run by Jerry Sandusky.

What’s more, despite personal knowledge of  the Sandusky child molestation investigations, Gov. Corbett approved a $3 million state grant to The Second Mile. The grant has been put on hold, but Gov. Corbett should now address possible conflicts of interest, influence peddling and, at best, his failure to lead.

With the arrest of Jerry Sandusky, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett quickly launched one of the most effective cover-your-ass campaigns in memory, in public everywhere weighing in as a moral compass on everything from the firing of Joe Paterno (“It was the right thing to do”) to the question of whether or not to fire the graduate assistant coach who reported  seeing Jerry Sandusky rape a 10-year-old but did nothing to intervene (he failed “to meet the higher moral obligation.”)

Sadly,  it appears the man who became Pennsylvania’s governor in 2011 failed to meet a higher moral obligation as well.  What happened during the six of the 15 years Jerry Sandusky  molested children while Tom Corbett was Pennsylvania’s attorney general, the top law enforcer in the state.  Why exactly did the case stall on his watch.

Corbett’s priorities towards the end of his AG tenure now seem more curious: he used the grand jury not to finally close in on Sandusky, but to launch a criminal investigation against two anonymous political critics and to subpoena Twitter to reveal their identities. 

Gov. Corbett has successfully dodged personal questions about the Sandusky investigation by saying he isn’t allowed to talk about the case because of grand jury restrictions. That must be a moot point by now.

We all now know that various Sandusky molestation reports had been kicking around for at least a decade until the case officially landed on Corbett’s desk in 2009.  That’s when officials at Clinton County High School reported charges to the local district attorney that Sandusky had molested a boy there. The prosecutor recused himself due to a personal conflict of interest (his wife ‘s brother was one of  Jerry Sandusky’s adopted sons) so he passed the case on to Attorney General Tom Corbett. 

Corbett did convene a Sandusky grand jury back in 2009 which turned up additional reports of molestation from 1998 and 2002, begging the question:  why didn’t he bring an indictment?

It’s hard to say. No one has pressed him for an answer.

Instead, reporters have accepted surrogate “impressions.” The New York Times, for one, quoted Kevin Harley who worked with Corbett during his years as Attorney General is now the Governor’s press secretary:  ”He knew what witnesses were going to the grand jury even though he was running for governor. So then he became governor, and he knew at some point that this day would be coming. He just didn’t know when it would be.”  (Huh?)

 NBC’s David Gregory was another journalist to give Corbett an extraordinary puppy pass:

MR. DAVID GREGORY: Governor Corbett, welcome to MEET THE PRESS.

GOV. TOM CORBETT (R-PA):  Thank you, David.

MR. GREGORY:  I know you’re limited, because you were attorney general, in speaking about the criminal investigation, but I have to ask you more broadly, are there more victims that we don’t know about?

GOV. CORBETT:  I don’t know the answer to that, David.  When you conduct investigations like this–and in my career, I have conducted investigations like this–the more that you can get public about what has happened, the more that you can demonstrate that law enforcement and authorities are going to assist the victims of these types of crimes, it is not uncommon to see more victims come forward.

Gregory did ask how Jerry Sandusky slipped through the cracks for so many years, but bizarrely asked a nine-part complex question with a kind of multiple choice option:

MR. GREGORY:  I just have to ask you as a trustee, as the governor of the state, as the former attorney general of the state, how did this happen?  I mean, was this, was this a culture of indifference?  A culture of cover-up? Did it extend throughout the university?  Go beyond the university to the police, to the D.A.?  Where? (Double huh?) 

Gregory’s failure to ask a direct question regarding Corbett’s tenure as attorney general allowed the Governor to dodge the issue completely.

GOV. CORBETT: I always wait for the results of an investigation before I issue any opinions.

Why did so many reporters give the governor such softballs when there are so many pointed questions that would have skirted any legal restrictions in the case. Here are just a few:

  • What percentage of the resources of your office did you dedicate to the Sandusky investigation?
  • When did the grand jury looking into Sandusky begin,  end?
  • When did you first read the 100-page investigation of Jerry Sandusky produced by university police?
  • What actions did you instruct your office to take based on that report?
  • How many grand juries did you convene in your last two years as attorney general?
  • How many resulted in criminal indictments?
  • What was your pedophile prosecution record during your tenure as AG?
  • Once you began your campaign for governor, how often did you meet with your prosecutors to discuss the road to an indictment of Jerry Sandusky?
  • Did your criminal investigation that involved the Twitter subpoena result in an indictment?
  • When was your last official conversation about the Sandusky case and what was discussed?
  • Why were you not able to bring an indictment against Jerry Sandusky?
  • What, if any, was  your “pass down” advice (on the Sandusky case) to the attorney general who succeeded you.

As attorney general, Tom Corbett eventually did create a team to go after pedophiles and other assorted child abusers, although he has more often spoken publicly about a disturbing case he  successfully prosecuted as a young district attorney where a pedophile used a Christian charity to recruit his victims.

Maybe Corbett did more or tried harder than it appears. As attorney general, he reportedly assigned only one investigator to the case in the first 15 months.  As Governor of Pennsylvania, the highest elected official in the state, he is obligated to show he did more than play ostrich while running for a public office that automatically placed him on the Penn State Board of Trustees.

So What Don’t They Understand About the Word, “Trustee?”

Beyond his failure to indict as attorney general,  Gov. Corbett now must explain why, as a trustee of Penn State University, he did nothing to intervene as Sandusky retained his office on campus and other glamorous perks  a serial pedophile would use as bait.

A public hearing would be an important step to clear all suspicions of conflicts of interest and influence peddling stemming from the nearly $650,000.00 in campaign donations to Gov. Tom Corbett  (Pa-R) from board members of Jerry Sandusky’s charity, The Second Mile.   

On Meet the Press last November, Corbett called for laws to be changed by the end of the year. What laws (reporting of sexual abuse or campaign finance) and what has he done about it so far?  

Gov. Corbett must personally address what he could have done, what he should have done and what must be changed tomorrow.  Then after we ask the right questions of our elected officials, perhaps we can ask Dottie Sandusky and others what they knew and when they knew it.

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