STATE COLLEGE — One day after Jack Raykovitz, the CEO of the embattled charity The Second Mile, stepped down, his successor said the organization has hired a Philadelphia law firm to conduct a full internal investigation into the organization’s policies and actions for the past decade.
David Woodle, the vice chairman of Second Mile’s board of directors, took over the reins Monday after Raykovitz’s exit Sunday continued the fallout from a child abuse scandal tied to The Second Mile’s founder, former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky.
Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno and school President Graham Spanier have been fired amid criticism university officials failed to tell police, as required by law, about a suspected 2002 sexual assault in a school shower involving Sandusky and a boy. Athletic Director Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, a vice president of finance and business, are charged with perjury and failure to report abuse in connection with that incident.
Curley was placed on administrative leave, and Schultz was allowed to retire.
The Second Mile has said Penn State, in 2002, told Raykovitz only that a university individual felt “uncomfortable” seeing Sandusky in a shower with a child, and that he had been banned from bringing Second Mile youth on campus.
As the scandal has unfolded, the charity has come under fire for allowing Sandusky to work with youth in light of the incident. Critics have asked how much the charity knew of Sandusky’s alleged behavior.
Raykovitz held his position for 28 years and earned about $133,000, according to tax documents. His wife, Katherine Genovese, continues to be employed by The Second Mile, Woodle said.
Despite repeated attempts, Raykovitz could not be reached for comment after Sandusky was indicted Nov. 5 on charges he sexually abused eight boys whom he had met through Second Mile programs. The charges span 15 years.
In a statement issued Monday, Raykovitz said simply The Second Mile board had accepted his resignation.
“Providing any statement beyond that sentence takes the focus from where it should be — on the children, young adults and families who have been impacted,” the statement said. “Their pain and their healing is the greatest priority, and my thoughts and prayers have been and will continue to be with them.”
The Second Mile officials Monday broke the silence they have held the past week. They issued a statement the day after Sandusky’s arrest, and attempts to reach Raykovitz or board members after Nov. 5 were unsuccessful.
“Through last week and into this weekend, we wanted to make sure we pulled together,” said Woodle, the chairman and CEO of NanoHorizons, a Bellefontebased company. “This is a statewide board of volunteers, the directors, and we wanted to make sure that we had properly analyzed and developed the best strategy for the kids.”
The Second Mile annually serves about 100,000 troubled or at-risk children statewide through early intervention, prevention, foster parent, leadership and counseling programs and services.
Monday, Woodle said The Second Mile has launched a third-party internal investigation, retaining the law firm Archer & Greiner as its general counsel to replace Wendell Courtney, who resigned last week.
Lynne Abraham, a partner with the firm, will investigate Second Mile’s actions in regards to Sandusky; assess its policies, practices and events; and make recommendations about its future, Woodle said.
“She was the district attorney of Philadelphia for 18 years and understands how to look at these things,” he said.
Abraham, according to her firm’s website, held the longest tenure as district attorney in the city’s history, and now works to promote legislation preventing gun violence and curbing Internet sexual predators. She did not respond to calls seeking comment.
Woodle said The Second Mile has heard “a balance” of community responses so far, from people urging the charity to continue its programs and services to those upset it may have played a role in the allegations.
He said it would be “premature” to comment about what Raykovitz knew or told board members about the allegation of sexual assault by Sandusky in 2002; what explanation, if any, Sandusky gave for it; and whether Penn State’s ban on Sandusky bringing The Second Mile children onto campus raised any flags for the charity.
Nor would he say if Sandusky ever underwent a background check, or whether the charity followed its own safeguards and procedures in letting Sandusky befriend boys and have unsupervised outings and sleepovers.
“We’re going to do an internal investigation to get an understanding of the events in the timelines,” Woodle said. “And for me to speak on behalf of what went through all that period — we had different people involved — I can’t do that until we get a thorough investigation.”
The purpose of the investigation, he said, will be “to review all the events that have happened internally.”
During the past decade, Woodle said, Sandusky served mainly as a “spokesman” for the charity. According to tax records, Sandusky earned $57,000 from The Second Mile in 2007, a year before he informed the charity he was being investigated by a state grand jury. The Second Mile has said it then removed Sandusky from programs involving children. In 2008, according to tax records, he earned no salary. Two years later, he retired.
Woodle said the charity hopes to have a report on its operations by the end of the year. The investigation, he said, is the charity’s first step toward rebuilding trust in its safety. “I think it’s started today,” he said.
In addition, he said, The Second Mile will talk to donors, families and partners such as businesses, schools and other nonprofits, to hear their opinions about what the charity should do.
“I think it’s having us understand the input from everyone we work with, on both sides, meaning those we support and those who support us,” he said.
The charity had sold tickets, at $350, to a reverse car auction fundraiser, scheduled for Nov. 11. That event has been postponed, Woodle said, and a statement on the charity’s website said it will be rescheduled.
What programs The Second Mile will offer in the future will depend on community support, he said.
“It’s clear if 90 percent of the support is coming in, that allows us to do certain things, and if 10 percent comes in, that has a different outcome,” he said. “And we don’t know that yet.”
Several celebrity honorary board members, including Cal Ripken and Lou Holtz, have distanced themselves from the charity. A Philadelphia Eagles spokesman said head coach Andy Reid, who had spoken once at a Second Mile event, had been unaware he was an honorary board member; the spokesman also said the charity told him it had dissolved its honorary board.
The charity had a list of celebrity members on its website last week but removed it along with the names of regular board members. Woodle said he did not know of any upset celebrities.
When asked about the change to the website, Woodle said some regular board members had requested it because of media attention. But, he said, the charity is not trying to hide anything from the public or criminal investigators.
“I will say we’re trying be as supportive to the ongoing investigation as we can, and cooperating every way that we can,” he said. “We’re also trying to be as transparent as we can, in terms of what steps we are taking.”
Chris Rosenblum can be reached at 231-4620.