March 31 has become an important date in the investigation of the disappearance of former Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar. They are important anniversaries in the investigation. The first is the 2009 foundation of a review panel, organized by current Centre County District Attorney, Stacy Parks Miller.1 That was three years ago. In 2011, there was the first article on the grand jury investigation of Jerry Sandusky.2 It mentioned the 1998 incident, but there was no indication in that article that Mr. Gricar had any role in the decision not to prosecute Sandusky then, or even anyone told him that there was an incident in 1998. That was two years ago, the first indication that we all would be ensnared in this Central Pennsylvania Gothic horror story.
What happened two years ago has impacted what happened three years ago. The grand jury investigating the Sandusky Scandal is looking at Mr. Gricar’s conduct, at least indirectly. The latest presentment, which led to the indictment of former University President Graham Spanier, spent the first six pages discussing the 1998 incident, and noted that Mr. Gricar decided not to file charges prior to any interview of Sandusky by the police or the investigator from the Department of Public Welfare3. So, in looking at Mr. Gricar’s conduct in the 1998 investigation, will there be a clue to explain his disappearance in 2005?
Maybe. It was suggested that if Mr. Gricar’s disappearance was motivated by his desire not to deal with the huge aftermath of the Sandusky case. He certainly would have hounded by the Press for answers about the conduct of that case, and certainly would have been called before the grand jury. Likewise, Mr. Gricar could have found out about the 2000 and 2001 incidents, and taken some moves to prosecute, including meeting with someone involved in Lewisburg on 4/15/05. He could have, at some clandestine meeting said, that, this time, he would have to prosecute. Whomever he was meeting could have said, “No, you’re not,” and killed him. His disappearance could be completely unrelated to anything involving Sandusky or Penn State. We just don’t know.
That presents an obstacle for the members of the review panel, if the Attorney General’s Office is not sharing information. The Attorney General’s (AG’s) Office might come up with something that seems trivial to them, and unrelated to the Sandusky, et al. prosecutions, bit might be just that piece of the puzzle that is needed to solve the disappearance.
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The Parks Miller Review has been good; the police have been comfortable in releasing more information. They continue to follow leads, including the possibilities that Mr. Gricar is in Slovenia or Ukraine,4 or in looking for his body in cemetery in Blair County.5 There has been no public claim that the AG’s Office is sharing all the information they have, though they did give the Bellefonte Police access to the 1998 incident information. Even if they are sharing everything, the AG’s Office might not even realize how important just a small piece of information is to the Review Panel.
About a week after the initial Sandusky indictment, I called for the Gricar investigation to be turned over to the AG’s Office, because of an appearance of a conflict of interest.6 The Centre County District Attorney’s Office investigated the case in 1998, and there were questions about the handling of it at that time. Since that time, there have only been more questions about it. That argument, that there is the possibility of the DA’s Office investigating, even indirectly, the official conduct of its former head, still holds. That appearance, especially when there are actual charges of a conspiracy, is a troubling one.
There is now a second argument. That argument is the AG’s Office might have some piece of information, seemingly trivial, that might be of paramount to solving Mr. Gricar’s disappearance, and may not even realize it.
All that said, the Centre County DA’s Office and the Bellefonte Police Department deserve applause for the progress they have made, for a stronger focus on the case, and for releasing more information. On these points, they deserve credit, and it is no doubt more difficult with the storm of the Sandusky scandal raging. Had the previous DA done this, I certainly would have been not critical of his conduct. The circumstances, however, have changed, and it is now time for the case to be investigated by the Attorney General’s Office, if just to provide better coordination.
One circumstance, the most important one, has not changed. It has been almost eight years since his disappearance, and we still don’t know what happened to Ray Gricar.
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