Police and prosecutors weren’t there when Children and Youth Services workers interviewed Jerry Sandusky in his home in January 2009 about allegations made by a young man who said Sandusky had abused him as a boy.
It was a significant missed opportunity early on, an investigator wrote in state Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s review of how Gov. Tom Corbett, as attorney general, handled the Sandusky case, and why it took so long.
“This was a notable failure, particularly since at no point later in the investigation did law enforcement manage to interview Sandusky,” investigator H. Geoffrey Moulton Jr. wrote in the report, which was released Monday in Harrisburg.
“Professional criminal investigators almost certainly would have gathered more information useful for the criminal investigation and prosecution, perhaps including not only more damaging admissions but also leads to other victims or additional information in support of a search warrant.”
If a similar scenario played out today in Clinton County, where the young man known as Victim 1 in the Sandusky trial lived, CYS officials would take the lead in interviewing the youth and police would question the accused.
An investigation team protocol adopted in 2013 in the county sets the new rules for how those cases are handled, the report said.
Moulton also singled out a missed opportunity in the lack of communication from the Centre County District Attorney’s Office of a previous abuse allegation against Sandusky in 1998.
He said the office failed to pass along word of the previous incident to state police and the Attorney General’s Office when reporting the 2009 incident.
“Had the 1998 allegation come to light by March 2009, that concern about (Victim 1’s) testimony (as the only evidence) would have been greatly alleviated,” Moulton wrote.
At a news conference Monday in Harrisburg, Moulton praised prosecutors’ work to convict Sandusky, but said such public reviews are important because they can help others learn from mistakes.
“Our goal was to provide a factual, unbiased review of this investigation and to identify any ways that law enforcement can do a better job protecting children,” he said.
His report made several recommendations to that end:• The Attorney General’s Office should rely more heavily on collaborating with child sexual abuse investigators and children’s services at the local level.
• In high-priority cases, senior management in the attorney general’s Executive Office should be more involved, direct greater attention and make decisions more quickly.
• The Attorney General’s Office should make child abuse education and outreach a higher priority.
• The state legislature’s work on child abuse legislation should continue, including further consideration of legislative changes recommended by the state’s Task Force on Child Protection.