I’m always surprised that anybody actually reads this blog, especially those people that are not arguing with me on message boards. So I was surprised that someone on a message board that had not been on had been reading it and commented on it. It was a woman named Lily Pad, who said that I was “gobsmacked” at the Sandusky case and Mr. Gricar’s decision not prosecute it.
I had to look up “gobsmacked.” It’s a British slang term that means “astounded” or “astonished.”2 Lily Pad was absolutely right. I was completely gobsmacked by the revelation that the hard hitting, experienced, former Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar did not prosecute Mr. Sandusky in 1998 or the in the nearly seven years between then and the day he disappeared. I still am.
I am, however, not gobsmacked that Mr. Gricar might not give too much weight to a psychologist’s report. There are several reasons.
First, and most importantly, these conclusions of a licensed psychologist and, at the time, a licensed counselor3, were not admissible.4 The interviews, what Victim 6 told said in the interview, is admissible. Dr. Alycia Chambers, the psychologist, indicated that her report might be “corroborative.”5 While these go a long way to establishing the creditably of Victim 6 as a witness, these conclusions are not in themselves evidence.
Never miss a local story.
Second is something that, in writing about Mr. Gricar for more than three years, I’ve noticed about the man. He did not give a great deal of weight to medical or psychological opinion, either professionally, or in his personal life.
There were several examples. The main one was in the case Sharon Comitz, who was convicted of murdering her newborn baby. Ms. Comitz had claimed post-partum depression as a factor for her plea of “guilty but mentally ill.” She had a diagnosed history of depression, actually being hospitalized for it. The court found that this was not an adequate ground,6 with Mr. Gricar concurring. He said, “Obviously, Sharon was depressed and 'lost it,' but there's no way she was out of her mind. She had to know exactly what she was doing and had a clear head to do it." 7 There was also the case where Mr. Gricar was sanctions for improperly convincing a witness not to testify. It was an expert witness, one that had been a prosecution expert, who was a medical doctor.8 This is a bit different than getting another expert to disagree with the doctor, and it does show that Mr. Gricar was willing to put his judgment over that of a medical expert.
This wasn’t an example of an attorney posturing; Mr. Gricar was like this in his personal life. There was his brother, Roy’s, suicide. While Roy Gricar had a long history of depression, Ray Gricar never believed that his brother could commit suicide, and expressed his doubts to his friend, the then Clinton County District Attorney Ted McKnight. Then, shortly before his disappearance, his girlfriend, Patty Fornicola, noticed that he was napping and suggested he see a doctor. According to her, “He tried to brush it off.”9 His close friend, Steve Sloane, noted that, “He wouldn’t even take an aspirin.”10
If somebody told me that Mr. Gricar had a case where a psychologist opined that a person was exhibiting a “likely pedophile’s pattern,”5 but that wasn’t admissible and he didn’t prosecute, I would not have been surprised, much less gobsmacked. It was in character for him not to give great weight to psychology and medicine, in both his professional and personal life.
I do remain gobsmacked, and saddened, when I look at what is admissible, the corroborating accounts taken just hours after the 1998. Victim 6’s story was consistent, and his description of events didn’t change. That was seen in both reports, taken days apart. And that is without the rest of the evidence in this incident. I still am gobsmacked that this case was not prosecuted under Mr. Gricar’s tenure.
3 According to the program that now Dr. Seasock presented in 2003, five years later, he did not have his doctorate and was a Licensed Professional Counselor. http://www.childwelfare.gov/calendar/cbconference/fourteenth/presentations/112.cfm
7 Time , 6/24/01, http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,149520,00.html
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
E-mail J. J. in Phila at email@example.com