Prosecutor to examine whether secrecy rules were violated in Sandusky investigation

mdawson@centredaily.comFebruary 28, 2013 

The judge supervising the grand jury that investigated convicted pedophile Jerry Sandusky has ordered a special prosecutor to look into whether the secrecy of those court proceedings was violated.

Judge Barry Feudale gave lawyer James Reeder a six-month appointment that started Feb. 8, according to the court order obtained Wednesday by the Centre Daily Times.

Feudale wrote in the order that a “preliminary investigation” demonstrated the need for a more expansive probe. Feudale gave Reeder independent authority and said the special prosecutor can use a grand jury to investigate and the power to offer immunity.

The judge’s order applies to the 33rd statewide grand jury, which released presentments in 2011 and 2012 charging Sandusky and former Penn State officials Tim Curley, Gary Schultz and Graham Spanier. It also applies to the Dauphin County grand jury.

The order does not identify the cases or people to investigate, and a state court spokesman declined to comment.

Under state law, grand juries are secret proceedings, and the participants, such as the prosecuting attorneys and jurors, are sworn to secrecy and can be found in contempt of court if they violate the law. Witnesses can disclose their testimony, though, according to the state’s criminal code.

Reeder will look into whether information about the grand jury proceedings was released by anyone other than witnesses.

Feudale said Reeder will look into obstruction of justice, and the judge emphasized that would go as far as including a “breach of official duty.”

The judge may also seek to address one of the most complex issues in the Curley, Schultz and Spanier cases — whether former university counsel Cynthia Baldwin was representing Penn State or the three officials when they testified in 2011.

Feudale’s order references Rule 230(c), which says: “All persons who are to be present while the grand jury is in session shall be identified in the record, shall be sworn to secrecy as provided in these rules, and shall not disclose any information pertaining to the grand jury except as provided by law.”

The attorneys for the men have said their clients thought Baldwin was representing them. But the defense lawyers have said Baldwin violated attorney-client privilege when she went to the grand jury and testified against them.

Baldwin’s attorney, Charles De Monaco, has said Baldwin did nothing wrong.

The attorneys for Curley, Schultz and Spanier want to keep Baldwin from taking the stand at a preliminary hearing on obstruction of justice and related charges, for which a court date has not been scheduled.

A spokeswoman for Curley’s and Schultz’s attorneys declined to comment.

The attorneys for Curley, Schultz and Spanier have maintained that their clients are innocent and have vowed to fight the charges.

Feudale’s order also addresses the rules governing how the transcripts of grand jury testimony are to be released. The rules for criminal procedures say the transcripts can only be released after a witness testifies at trial, but Feudale gave an exception to Sandusky’s defense after they asked to review the voluminous transcripts ahead of the trial.

In a June 26 phone conference with trial judge John Cleland and the prosecuting and defense attorneys in the Sandusky case, Feudale brought up the transcript of one of Sandusky’s sons, Matt Sandusky, who did not testify at trial.

Prosecutor Frank Fina said the transcript was voluntarily given to the defense, and Feudale said the transcript would be considered in the public domain and not subject to grand jury secrecy.

Officials from the Attorney General’s Office in August denied a Right-to-Know Law request for the transcript that was made by the CDT.

Reeder will make $72 an hour and can hire an investigator and a support staffer. Reeder was directed to submit with recommendations on any proposals to guarantee the secrecy of grand jury proceedings.

Reeder’s review is the second internal review pertaining to the Sandusky case.

Attorney General Kathleen Kane appointed a special prosecutor to review her predecessors’ investigation and why the prosecutors took three years to indict Sandusky. That special prosecutor is H. Geoffrey Moulton Jr.

Mike Dawson can be reached at 231-4616. Follow him on Twitter @MikeDawsonCDT.

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