[This is the nineteenth part of a series on the investigation into the disappearance of former Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar.]
The revelations that Jerry Sandusky was a serial child molester was a storm that raged across the Penn State Campus, Centre County and much of Pennsylvania like Force Five hurricane. The effects were wide spread, with Sandusky initially being charged with sex crimes against eight victims, but this blog will only focus on the effect on the case of the disappearance of former Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar.
We can tell the exact time it struck the Gricar case, 11:54 PM on 11/4/11, when Sara Ganim in the Patriot News published that, in 1998, Mr. Gricar had not prosecuted Sandusky, even though several police officers eavesdropped on conversation with the 11 year boy’s mother where Sandusky where he admitted to privately showering, and hugging, the prepubescent boy, identified as Victim 6.1
There were now three main questions in the Gricar saga:
1. What happened to Ray Gricar in 2005?
2. Why didn’t Ray Gricar prosecute Jerry Sandusky in 1998?
3. Was the answer to the first question related to the second question?
The story got worse the next morning, when the grand jury presentment was released. While both this article and Ms. Ganim’s original article indicated that there was a witness to the 1998 event, one that could not testify because he was in the military and out of the country. That was inaccurate, the “witness,” identified as B.K., was effectively a second victim, reporting a nearly identical event to Victim 6.2 In short, Mr. Gricar had two victims in 1998, so the Attorney General’s Office was prosecuting Sandusky with less evidence than Mr. Gricar had.
At this point speculation about this decision ranged from not having enough evidence to Mr. Gricar being paid off. I called it at best a colossal lapse of judgment; I
also noted that it was uncharacteristic.
It got worse the next week, when, on 11/11/11 Jerry Lauro, the investigator from the Department of Public Welfare who was conducting a parallel investigation, stated he was told by the police that the police investigation had been dropped first.3
On 11/18/11, there was a new development in the disappearance. Bellefonte Police Chief Shawn Weaver disclosed on CNN that the 4/18/05 sighting of Mr. Gricar in Wilkes-Barre had been ruled out. He also noted there was no case file on Sandusky at the District Attorney’s Office, and that was no suggestion that he was working on the case when he disappeared.4
In mid-December, the former University Police Detective, Ronald Schreffler, spoke to the press and said, "At the very minimum, there was enough evidence for some charges, like corruption of minors." He, however, otherwise praised Mr. Gricar’s conduct as district attorney.5
After this point, the former assistant district attorney who specialized in child abuse case, J. Karen Arnold, spoke to self-published author William Keisling, and indicated that she had initially handled the case, but Mr. Gricar took the case from her. She said, "I only had the Sandusky case for a few days. I don't know why Ray handled it the way he did. I can't read his mind. I'm not a mind reader."6 In early February, in a court filing, Sandusky’s attorney, Joseph Amendola, noted that a police interview with Ms. Arnold had “extensive disagreements” with Mr. Gricar over the police investigation.7
In March, the report of John Seasock, then a licensed counselor, was briefly tagged as the reason Mr. Gricar didn’t prosecute. Mr. Seasock, as he was in 1998, was called in the Department of Public Welfare and determined that Sandusky was not a child molester.8 This evaporated quickly with the report of Dr. Alycia Chambers, the psychologist of Victim 6, wrote a report prior to Mr. Seasock’s indicated that Sandusky was exhibiting grooming behavior.9 Mr. Lauro stated he had not seen the Chambers Report until 2012, though it was attached to the police report in 1998, and that had he, his investigation of Sandusky would have been closed. In any event, at the time, neither conclusion was admissible in court.10
Several pages of the police report from 1998 were also released. It supported Ms. Arnold’s statement that she handled the case for only a few days and that Mr. Gricar handled the case directly.
In April there were new revelations. First, the Deadspin website published the redacted 1986 FBI background check on Mr. Gricar. This reinforced the longstanding statements that Mr. Gricar was not gregarious. There were repeated statements from neighbors, coworkers, and even supervisors, some even dating from his time in Cleveland, that indicated he was a private person. It also noted his travels to Europe, including Yugoslavia, when then contained his ancestral homeland of Slovenia. The was “close personal associate,” a woman who had known him for about seven years, that was noted. Whether this was a platonic association, or something beyond that, is unknown.
On the seventh anniversary of Mr. Gricar’s, Sara Ganim published an in depth article on Mr. Gricar. It named names, especially of the women associated with Mr. Gricar in the 15 years prior to his disappearance. Presumably at some point between his 2001 filing for divorce from his second wife, Emma Gricar, and moving in with his girlfriend, Patty Fornicola, about 18 months later, he ask a third woman, a nurse named Brenda Gray, who he asked to marry. He also flirted with a waitress at the Gamble Mill restaurant, though nothing further. From the early 1990’s there Barbara Petito, the former broadcast journalist, who was initially thought to be the “Mystery Woman.” She had been in New York (I’m told Long Island) at the time and was ruled out. Interestingly, she was at a press conference with Mr. Gricar and then Attorney General Tom Corbett, about a fortnight prior to the disappearance.
And, through his friend, Steve Sloane, we found out a bit more about the relationship with the second Mrs. Gricar. Their marriage was turbulent, and at some of their arguments were over money, even though both worked. Mrs. Gricar often complained about not being able to connect with her then husband, the distance even existing in that relationship. Mr. Sloane noted, however, “There was fire and romance with Emma and Ray…. “ I did learn that Mr. Gricar had been the one to file for divorce. That should dispel several myths surrounding Mr. Gricar’s relationships.
Even here, the case intersected that of scandal at Penn State. Mr. Sloane had kept a Dictaphone after the disappearance. On that was this message from Mr. Sloane, a memo to clerk. This is what it said:
“Oct. 13, 1998. Schreffler, Ralston, Sloane, Gricar. Investigation going to Penn State meeting. Ray. Fran Ganter. Ron Schreffler is taking us to the football building and I will finish this memo, Sue, and either Ray will type something, handwrite something or he’ll tell me to dictate this and I’ll give you the tape when we get back. Thanks.”
Mr. Sloane, who was involved in the 1998 investigation, stated that he could not remember what this “investigation” referred to. Detective Schreffler, who was with the University Police, and Officer Ralph Ralston, of the State College Police Department were the two police officers that eavesdropped on Mr. Sandusky’s conversation with the mother of Victim 6. That representatives of both police departments along, with the district attorney, all of which were involved in the May investigation, were meeting with then offensive coordinator of the Nittany Lions, in the “football building” regarding an “investigation,” certainly raises several red flags.
The next day, as irony would have it, Sara Ganim won the Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting, for her coverage of the Sandusky scandal.
A little more became known about the Gricar case. He wasn’t in Wilkes-Barre on 4/18/05; the Southfield sighting had not been ruled out, but there was no definitive proof. Some details were added, the person everyone suspected, incorrectly, have been the Mystery Woman was identified by name. Mr. Gricar’s conduct in the Sandusky case, seven years before he disappeared, however, came under closer scrutiny. The image of a prosecutor that was aggressive rapidly melted away with the winter’s snow.
The scrutiny would be limited to, or even primarily focused on Mr. Gricar. The grand jury was still meeting.14 Penn State had its own internal investigation, headed by Louis Freeh, a former FBI Director.15
In April and May of 2012, the fields of Centre County blossomed into that Kelly Green of late Spring. Bellefonte’s Victorian glory was bathed in the sunlight of lengthening day. Yet, there was a storm still raging. The Sandusky trial would start in mid-June; its end would not mark the end of this storm.
10 http://www.pasenategop.com/committees/judiciary/2012/032712/HB1264-analysis.pdf p. 2 (current law)
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
Link to Part 18:
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