Where the Buck Stopped

Posted on December 1, 2011 

            In writing about Ray Gricar’s role in the 1998 investigation of Jerry Sandusky, I’ve gotten a lot of questions.  A few I can’t answer.  Why did the then Centre County District Attorney not prosecute the case?  I can speculate, as many others have, but I don’t have a great deal of evidence for any speculation at this point, and there is a lot of it out there.  I know that I’d like to believe it was an honest mistake. Is it related to his 2005 disappearance?  I don’t know.  Is Mr. Gricar alive or dead?  I still don’t have an answer to that one.

            One question I can answer, and a few people have asked, is why I did not mention that Jerry Lauro, then an investigator with the Department of Public Welfare, also closed the case.  I’ve had a few e-mails asking about it and even had someone comment online while I was writing this.

            The main reason is that Mr. Lauro does not prosecute cases; that is not his job.  That decision was Mr. Gricar’s, not Mr. Lauro's.  Any decision of any district attorney is not based on what someone else thinks of the case.  It is the district attorney’s responsibility whether or not to pursue charges.  Mr. Lauro said, when the story broke, ““I had no decision-making authority or power in any of these cases. They are left up to the district attorney to decide. In all of the hundreds of cases that I ran, I never let anyone influence me.”1  So whatever others thought, it was still Mr. Gricar’s call.

A district attorney, and frankly any lawyer, should listen to what professionals in the field say; they can often be experts and can testify in court as experts.  Mr. Lauro’s opinion on if the case should continue could have some weight, perhaps a lot of weight, in Mr. Gricar’s decision.  However, according to Mr. Lauro, Mr. Gricar made his decision first.

Mr. Lauro said, in the press about the detective, “All he [Detective Ron Schreffler] said was, ‘There’s nothing to it — we’re going to close our case.’ And I said, ‘That’s fine, I’m going to close my case, too.”2  The decision not to prosecute seems to have been made without Mr. Lauro’s input.

Now, we can ask the question if Mr. Lauro’s decision was identical to Mr. Gricar’s decision.  Did they both look at the same evidence and reach the same independent conclusions.

According to Mr. Lauro, no.  He was never told about all of the alleged statements of Mr. Sandusky to the mother of Victim 6, the ones that were witness by the two hiding police officers.  That included, according to the three witnesses, a statement from Mr. Sandusky that he showered with other young boys.  It is unknown if Mr. Lauro knew of the second alleged victim, B. K.3 

In my experience, that is standard procedure for the police.  I was, after retirement, called in to testify to a case of welfare fraud.  The police subpoenaed four or five other people to testify to the same thing I would; the investigators never told me this and I didn’t know this until I went into court.  I can easily understand why Mr. Lauro did not know these other details.

So, what we have is a decision by Mr. Lauro based on incomplete evidence.  We have a situation where Mr. Lauro’s decision to close the case was made after Mr. Gricar made the decision not to prosecute the case.  Most importantly, the decision not to prosecute was never Mr. Lauro’s decision to make.  The last reason is the primary reason why I did not previously mention it.

Jennifer Storm, the executive director of the Dauphin County Victim/Witness Assistance Program, and a member of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, said, “This to me would have been a really good criminal case.”4  She seems to be correct, since the current Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office thinks it is.  They have indicted Mr. Sandusky on the 1998 alleged incident, one step beyond what Mr. Gricar had done; we will be watching to see how this turns out.  They also did it when one possible victim, B. K. was unable to testify before the grand jury.  There was no new evidence that was revealed, according to the presentment.3

Ms. Storm also said, “Why didn’t this go to court?  Unfortunately, we may never know the answer.”4  That is one of those questions I cannot answer; I am hoping it was just an honest mistake, if a massive one.  I can answer who was the person who made that decision.  The buck stopped with Mr. Gricar.

End Notes

1 http://www.centredaily.com/2011/11/06/2976046/gricar-had-final-say-in-ending.html#ixzz1fF2SbTYC

 

2 http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2011/11/who_knew_what_about_jerry_sand.html

 

3 http://www.collegian.psu.edu/archive/2011/11/10/SanduskyGrandJuryPresentment.aspx

 

4 http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-11-23/investigator-says-proof-wasn-t-there-to-stop-sandusky-in-1998.html

 

 

Centre Daily Times Ray Gricar Section:  http://www.centredaily.com/138/

Link to the Main Index for Sporadic Comments on Ray Gricar:  http://www.centredaily.com/2011/03/21/2597340/main-index-32011.html

E-mail J. J. in Phila at scorg@live.com

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