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Kane revises statement about 2 alleged victims of Sandusky

Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review
Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane listens to questions and comments from the audience at a community drug forum at the Penn Hills Library Saturday, April 5, 2014.

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By Brad Bumsted and Adam Smeltz
Wednesday, June 25, 2014, 12:39 p.m.
 

HARRISBURG — Attorney General Kathleen Kane on Wednesday backtracked from a claim that pedophile Jerry Sandusky abused boys while a state criminal investigation plodded along.

Kane had said two people reported Sandusky abused them in fall 2009, several months after her predecessors in the office began investigating the retired Penn State University assistant football coach. She said former prosecutors excluded them from the criminal case that went to trial in June 2012 in Centre County.

But in a brief statement on Wednesday, Kane's office confirmed that one victim from fall 2009 is the man identified as “Victim No. 9” of 10 at the criminal trial.

Victim 9 testified before the jury and was known to state investigators and prosecutors. He approached state police and joined the criminal case after Sandusky was arrested in November 2011.

“It is starting to unravel” for Kane, said former supervisory agent Randy Feathers, who helped lead the Sandusky investigation. “Victim No. 9 testified, and Sandusky was convicted (of abusing him). I think she is either incompetent or attempting to mislead people on purpose.”

Kane spokesman J.J. Abbott would not talk about her credibility, saying he could not comment. The Democratic attorney general was not available.

Her office sent a four-sentence statement, limiting details about the men to whom Kane referred on Monday, when she released a report on the Sandusky investigation:

“We will confirm that of the two individuals that alleged abuse by Sandusky into the fall of 2009, one ... reported abuse to OAG in 2012,” her office said. “The other victim was not originally (in the charges against Sandusky). We will not give any other identifying information, to protect their privacy. It is imperative, as prosecutors, that we do not re-victimize individuals.”

Former Deputy Attorneys General Frank Fina and Joseph McGettigan dispute many of Kane's conclusions, made when she released her report about why it took three years to investigate Sandusky. Fina and McGettigan cast her as a politician who twisted the review of the Sandusky case to match inflammatory campaign statements she made in 2012.

Kane's aides had stood by her comments on Tuesday, calling it “shameful for others to re-victimize these individuals by denying their existence.”

Yet no concerns about alleged abuse in fall 2009 appear in the 166-page review. Kane said bad missteps hindered and slowed the Sandusky investigation, which ended with a successful prosecution.

Sandusky is serving a lengthy prison sentence for molesting 10 boys over 15 years.

“I just don't know how much she knows about what she's talking about. I don't know why she would say something like this. I can't fathom what's in her mind,” McGettigan said.

He said he knew of no “viable claims of abuse in 2009” from anyone at that point. He and Fina did not know to whom Kane was referring, McGettigan has said.

One young man told investigators that Sandusky assaulted him, but the alleged assault was not in the fall of 2009, according to Fina. He said prosecutors did not learn of it until 2012 and determined the man's account was not credible.

Whether Kane misspoke “does not negate the fact that this investigation took too long,” said Tor Michaels, chief of staff to Democratic Rep. Scott Conklin, whose district includes the Penn State campus in State College.

“I think we need to get past the idea of whether she misspoke and look at what the report has to say,” Michaels said.

In Scranton, Vergnetti Consulting CEO Leo Vergnetti said he has not lost faith in Kane, whom he has known and respected for years.

“As a matter of fact, she said what she was going to do” with the Sandusky report, said Vergnetti, a Republican. “She didn't go political on it.”

GOP consultant Charlie Gerow disagreed, calling Kane's misstatement about the case “another stain on her credibility” after she declined to prosecute a legislative corruption case involving five Philadelphia Democrats.

“Kathleen Kane has infused politics into the criminal justice system,” said Gerow, whose company works for Republican Gov. Tom Corbett's re-election campaign.

Kane suggested in her 2012 campaign that Corbett, a former attorney general from Shaler, prolonged the Sandusky investigation until his election as governor. Corbett has denied that claim.

Brad Bumsted and Adam Smeltz are Trib Total Media staff writers. Reach Bumsted at 717-787-1405. Reach Smeltz at 412-380-5676 or asmeltz@tribweb.com.

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