While questions continue to be raised about Penn State’s settlements from the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal, the state solicitor general is asking a question some have been asking for years.
What about The Second Mile?
Sandusky’s charity for at-risk kids was where the retired Nittany Lions defensive coordinator came in contact with the 10 boys who were the victims in his conviction on 45 counts of various child sex crimes in 2012.
Solicitor General Bruce Castor said this week that he would like to see a closer look at the charity.
“I asked the agents to put together an outline of what an investigation would look like if I were to go ahead and ask for one,” he told the Centre Daily Times.
“It has troubled me that while we focused on PSU administrators, I have not seen what efforts we could make relative to The Second Mile and whether the leaders there knew of Sandusky’s proclivities and still allowed him access to children,” he said. “I want to decide whether a further investigation is warranted before recommending to the attorney general that we undertake one.”
In recent weeks, media attention has focused on the issue again after a civil case between the university and its liability insurer revealed that Penn State settled claims with alleged victims that went back much further. Of the 32 settlements totaling $93 million, some were from as far back as 1971.
Look at the documents for some of the cases that were publicly filed, like John Doe 6’s suit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in January 2013, and you see Sandusky and The Second Mile named as defendants, too, but Penn State is listed first.
That case, incidentally, was listed by the court as reaching a confidential settlement in November. Penn State says there are no other settlements pending.
In March, Warren and Forest counties Senior Judge William Morgan officially dissolved the charity, turning over remaining assets to the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General. Those assets totaled about $750,000.
Since it started the process of dissolution in October 2012, The Second Mile gave things like cash, computers and its endowment fund to another group, Arrow Child and Family Ministries, with the court’s approval. In 2015, a 60-acre property in Patton Township was sold for $1.05 million.
The OAG is administering the leftover money. According to press secretary Jeffrey Johnson, any outstanding claims made against the organization had to be filed within 120 days of the dissolution. That sets the deadline at early July.
Castor’s involvement in the matter is an intersection of two of his roles.
The former Montgomery County district attorney was named solicitor general in March, and has since taken on a kind of watchdog role in the OAG, evaluating how certain things should be done and making recommendations accordingly.
Last month, he recommended that the AG not pursue an appeal of the Superior Court decision to drop perjury, obstruction and conspiracy counts against former Penn State president Graham Spanier and vice president Gary Schultz and obstruction and conspiracy counts against former athletic director Tim Curley. The AG’s office continues prosecution of the three for failure to report suspected abuse and endangering the welfare of children, plus perjury against Curley, all in Dauphin County. Those charges arise from Sandusky’s grand jury.
If we were to investigate, we would be interested in partnering with the Centre County DA’s Office.
But in Centre County, Castor has another job. Or two. He is both the attorney of District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller and a special assistant district attorney.
“If we were to investigate, we would be interested in partnering with the Centre County DA’s Office,” Castor said. “I will have that conversation with the DA, should the attorney general green-light us looking further into what Second Mile executives and directors knew about Sandusky and when. Did they facilitate the victimization of children?”
He also addressed conflicts between the offices. Sandusky was prosecuted by the OAG, not by Centre County.
“To my knowledge the conflict with the DA’s office and The Second Mile was with the prior DA and not DA Parks Miller. So it might be she and her assistants who would ultimately do any prosecutions,” he said. “Thus, it is prudent that she work on any investigation with us. Even with all the craziness that seems to go on in Centre County politics, no one says that DA Parks Miller is not extremely effective at her job. That is what we would be counting on.”
The craziness in question would be the reason Castor represents Parks Miller and has his special position with the DA’s office.
Parks Miller was the subject of an investigation by the OAG in 2015 after accusations were made that she forged a judge’s signature on a fake bail order as part of an investigation. Kane’s office took the case after Parks Miller referred it to her, and a grand jury did not recommend charges.
Parks Miller sued her accusers, the county, the commissioners and the judge. Most of those cases were dismissed last week, although a federal judge did grant Parks Miller freedom to refile some charges against the commissioners.
Asked if his overlapping relationships with the OAG and the DA might give him a special insight into the Sandusky case and the charity, one of Centre County’s biggest scandals, he said that it really isn’t unusual.
“Not insight. Many of the DAs around the state know me, and do not hesitate in contacting me directly if our office can be of assistance,” he said. “Obviously that is the case in Centre County, just as it is in most of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties.”