One theory for the disappearance of former Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar, one that is often mentioned by the “chattering class,” is that he is in the witness protection program. There are some very good arguments against it. Mr. Gricar is not known to have witnessed anything. Certainly, the program would not want this publicity. Further, we just had a major trial, and despite Mr. Gricar’s 1998 decision being part of that, he didn’t walk into court.
I’ve jokingly thought here is a program that Mr. Gricar is in, however. It is the legacy protection program. I’m not even sure that Mr. Gricar would want to be in it. It is not a real program, but some of the actions of the law enforcement and commentators seem to be more intent on protecting Mr. Gricar’s “legacy” than finding out what happened to him.
The first case was the famous “Mystery Woman” seen with Mr. Gricar in Lewisburg on 4/15/05. The very first witness that reported seeing Mr. Gricar reported seeing him with this woman; he made the report to the police sometime between 6:30 PM and 11:45 PM on 4/16/05.1 There was apparently at least one other witness that put Mr. Gricar and the Mystery Woman together in Lewisburg. The police did check out an old friend of Mr. Gricar’s, but she was ruled out in the first week. While there was some publicity, usually online and in a small Cleveland newspaper, in 2005, this report was not stressed until May of 2006.2
The police attributed this delay to “sensitivity.”3 They didn’t want people to think that Mr. Gricar was having a tryst with a lover. That was very understandable in the first days of the investigation, but after a week or so, it should have clear that this wasn’t a case of Mr. Gricar having a fling.
We don’t know who the Mystery Woman was; she might have been nothing more than a fellow shopper asking Mr. Gricar his opinion of some merchandise. She might have been flirting with him. She might have been a lover. She might have been his ride out of Lewisburg and out to a new life. She might have been associated, even innocently, with his murderer. She might have been his murderer.
Let’s assume it was one of the first two. Had this been a random meeting, the “Mystery Woman” might not even have realized that the person she was talking to was Mr. Gricar and forgotten about the innocent encounter by the time it was emphasized. Still, she might have valuable information. Did she see Mr. Gricar with someone else; did he mention anything about returning home or having an appointment? Was he checking his watch? What was his demeanor like?
Let’s assume it was the third case, a lover that was not involved in his disappearance. She could provide valuable information on where Mr. Gricar was on 4/15/05, or possibly 4/16.
In the last four cases, someone might have seen the Mystery Woman and remembered her. Her whereabouts on the weekend of 4/15/05 might well lead to a solution to the Gricar disappearance.
All of these things are possible, but because nobody wanted to suggest that it was possible that Mr. Gricar might have been with a woman, it was hidden from view for more than a year. Even suggesting that it is at least possible for Mr. Gricar, who was unmarried (though living with his girlfriend), to be in a tryst with an adult woman is not exactly the most shocking story that Centre County has faced in the last eight years. It pales beside some of the commentary I’ve seen since Mr. Gricar disappeared. It was, however, legacy protection. Some people didn’t want to even give the impression that Mr. Gricar could be in that situation.
That hurt the investigation into Mr. Gricar’s disappearance. The Mystery Woman may or may not exist; she may or may not know anything about his disappearance. However, because the information was hidden for so long, it became next to impossible to determine if the Mystery Woman had any role in the disappearance. That was a missed opportunity, missed because people put a desire to protect Mr. Gricar’s legacy over a desire to determine what happened to him.
As legacy protection, this tactic failed as well, when other women in Mr. Gricar’s life over the years were publicly identified. Part of Mr. Gricar’s legacy was that he was a “ladies man,”4 not that there is anything too terrible in that.
Now we move to the Sandusky case. The initial reaction from some was that Mr. Gricar didn’t have enough evidence to prosecute Mr. Sandusky in 1998. Then it transpired that there was another victim in 1998, that was available to Mr. Gricar then, but not to the grand jury in 2011. Even without this second victim, the Attorney General filed charges, and a judge upheld them.
Mr. Sandusky’s attorney, Joseph Amendola, claimed in his defense that the charges were so weak that Mr. Gricar, with his reputation as a hard hitting prosecutor (which he was in other cases), wouldn’t prosecute.5 Here, legacy protection ended. Not one of the people who claimed that there wasn’t enough evidence was even called. Jugde Cleland refused to dismiss the charge, so apparently he did not think so either.
Again, legacy protection failed, with even recent call from Penn State Dickinson School of Law Professor Lance Cole has called for a special prosecutor to be appointed to investigate, among other things, Mr. Gricar’s 1998 decision.6
Let’s be honest about Mr. Gricar’s legacy. His decision in regard to Victim 6 was exceptionally bad one, hugely poor judgment, at least. It may be nothing beyond that. That is part of his legacy, but there are other parts, much better parts, as well. I’ve mentioned some of his other cases before, and researched at least once since November, and some of them easily meet the image of a hard hitting prosecutor, even one involving Penn State football, and, indirectly, Joe Paterno.7
Frankly, I’m not concerned if people think Mr. Gricar is the greatest thing since sliced bread, or if he is a complete bum. I am concerned about what happened to him. Did he meeting a mystery woman for tryst in Lewisburg? Did she help him walk away? Was she involved in his murder? Is his 1998 decision related to him walking away? Did it lead to his murder? Was it totally unrelated to his disappearance?
I don’t know the answer to these questions. I can answer a few about the legacy protection. First, it will hurt the chances of answering the question, “What happened to Ray Gricar?” Second, ultimately, legacy protection will be a complete failure. The truth will eventually come out. You may not like the truth (and frankly, I may not like it either), but it will come out.
1 AP, 5/10/06. http://z10.invisionfree.com/usedtobedoe/ar/t2226.htm The first press report was on 4/16/05, at 11:45 PM, indicating that a witness had seen Mr. Gricar on the morning of 4/16/05. The witness that saw Mr. Gricar with the woman reported that he had seen him the day before, on 4/15/05; since this was the first witness, it would obviously have to have been reported prior to person who reported seeing Mr. Gricar on 4/16/05.
4 Patriot-News (PN), 4/15/12. http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2012/04/ray_gricar_mystery.html
7 PPG, 8/27/03. http://old.post-gazette.com/sports/psu/20030827anwar0827p5.asp
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
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