Pennsylvania voters still have the Jerry Sandusky scandal on their minds, and many question Gov. Tom Corbett’s handling of the investigation when he was attorney general.
A new poll from Franklin & Marshall College’s Center for Opinion Research found only about a sixth of registered voters (17 percent) think Corbett did an excellent or good job of investigating the Sandusky child sexual abuse case, while almost two-thirds (65 percent) think he did a fair or poor job.
“Tom Corbett not arguably has taken a hit,” said G. Terry Madonna, director of the poll. “He has suffered. People think the investigation should have been done differently.”
Sandusky, a former Penn State defensive coordinator, was convicted in June on 45 counts for sexually molesting 10 young boys, sometimes on the university’s campus. More than 90 percent of voters reported knowing a great deal or a fair amount about the Sandusky scandal, according to the poll, released Wednesday.
Penn State fared better in the findings, Madonna said, with most registered voters (54 percent) responding that NCAA sanctions imposed against the university are unfair.
The severe sanctions — including a $60 million fine, the elimination of 112 wins, 111 under former coach Joe Paterno, and the loss of scholarships and bowl eligibility — came after Penn State’s internal investigation, headed by former FBI director Louis Freeh, determined former top university officials covered up allegations made against Sandusky.
“When you looked at the sanctions, it was wiping out the victories that were hard fought by hundreds, if not thousands, of students that seems on the surface to be unfair,” Madonna said. “The results didn’t surprise me.”
It's less clear, he said, what effect the scandal and its aftermath will have on Corbett’s future.
That could depend, in part, on who is elected attorney general this fall, Madonna said. Both candidates have called for a review of the case.
About half of the registered voters surveyed (49 percent) agreed that the case should be reviewed, according to the poll.
Civil suits filed by Sandusky victims and the ongoing trials for former Penn State administrators Tim Curley and Gary Schultz could also affect Corbett moving forward, Madonna said.
“There are implications for the gubernatorial election, but it’s unclear how important the whole Penn State (scandal) will play,” he said.
The survey findings are based on the responses of 632 Pennsylvania registered voters, from interviews conducted between Sept. 18 and Sunday. The poll has a margin of error of 3.9 percentage points.
Matt Carroll can be reached at 231-4631. Follow him on Twitter @Carrollreporter