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Now comes the Kane probe ...

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State Capitol Reporter
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Brad Bumsted is a state Capitol reporter for the Trib.
The Scranton Times-Tribune

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By Brad Bumsted

Published: Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

HARRISBURG

Kathleen Kane's swearing-in ceremony as attorney general in the Capitol Rotunda was an extraordinary event in several respects.

When her twin sister, Ellen, who has worked for the attorney general for years, took her position in the front row of marble steps (Kathleen wasn't out yet), the sister received considerable applause. Sorry, the twin said, not Kathleen.

It was also extraordinary because Kane is the first woman and first Democrat elected attorney general in Pennsylvania.

On her way to the podium, Kane stopped to shake hands with Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, who is at the center of her campaign-pledged investigation into how the Jerry Sandusky case was handled. Her promise to get answers on why it took 33 months to arrest the serial pedophile is the opening question. Another is whether Corbett in any way slowed the investigation down to get past the November 2010 election, when he was elected governor. He says emphatically he did not tell anyone to pull back on the reins.

The arrest of Sandusky, a former Penn State assistant football coach, triggered a chain of events that left the Happy Valley campus in chaos. There were street protests. School president Graham Spanier and Joe Paterno, the head football coach, were fired. Even the iconic Joe Paterno statue outside Beaver Stadium was removed.

It would not have been good “optics” for Corbett in the middle of his gubernatorial race. After all, Penn State Nation is a huge share of the electorate.

The gazillion-dollar question is whether there were any other victims during that period when Corbett's methodical investigation was going through a grand jury at a meeting pace of one week per month. From March 2009 through November 2011, did Sandusky molest any young boys who were unknown to prosecutors and weren't part of the trial? It seems unlikely given the international news focus on the Sandusky case and litigation by victims well under way. But child abuse victims can take years to come forward.

It's also extraordinary to see an investigation bow following a successful prosecution and when there's no evidence of prosecutory misconduct. Sandusky is serving 30 to 60 years in prison.

Still, there's no question Pennsylvanians wanted answers about the length of the investigation and the other events such as the firing of Paterno, who died of lung cancer months later. By 2011, Corbett was still involved but as governor and a board of trustees member. There's a strong belief out there that Paterno was not involved in a conspiracy or cover-up, as alleged in a Penn State-commissioned report by former FBI Director Louis Freeh.

The issue fueled Kane's rise in the polls.

Those who have watched Corbett over the years believe him when he says he told no one to slow down the investigation. But in any organization, there are underlings who might try to anticipate what they think the boss wants.

Who knows what Kane will find. There might be ample fodder over the decision to use a grand jury; the staff resources allocated for the Sandusky probe; the lack of attention to the case when there was only one witness (Victim No. 1.); the failure to search Sandusky's home until the summer of 2011; and the lack of focus on the Second Mile Foundation, Sandusky's charity for underprivileged kids and his private procurement ground.

There's no arguing, though, that Jerry Sandusky sits in solitary confinement in a small cell — where he'll likely stay for the rest of his days.

Brad Bumsted is the state Capitol reporter for Trib Total Media (717-787-1405 or bbumsted@tribweb.com).

 

 

 
 


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