There was a time in my life when everything revolved around the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. It doesn’t anymore, though I occasionally feel the pull. If you have read this blog over the years, you know that I do comment, sporadically, on politics. Mr. Gricar was, by definition, a politician, in the good sense of the word (and yes, it does have a good sense). He was the elected District Attorney of Centre County, and, as such, did have his name on the ballot, campaign, and debate his opponents. People voted for him and he received endorsements. He went through this process five times.
Sometimes, politics do interest with the investigation into Mr. Gricar’s disappearance. 2012 is no exception. There is a race for the office of Pennsylvania’s Attorney General. One of the issues in that race is the investigation into the investigation of the Jerry Sandusky case.
There are two candidates for the office, a former Assistant District Attorney from Lakawanna County, Kathleen Kane (D), and the current Cumberland County District Attorney, David Freed (R). Very early on, just after the seventh anniversary, Ms. Kane was asked about the 1998 investigation. She indicated that her “first order of business,” would be to see what the Attorney General’s Office knew. Mr. Freed said, “In this tragic circumstance, what the public needs to realize is that because District Attorney Gricar did not initially refer the case to the Attorney General’s Office, that office could not have been involved.”1
There is a third party involved, the former Attorney General, and current Governor, Tom Corbett. Ms. Kane indicated that she wanted his decision not to charge Mr. Sandusky immediately, with just one known victim. She further said, “The reason it was probably politics is you look at all the other factors surrounding it.”2 Mr. Corbett said, “…let them have one,” either by the incoming Attorney General or a federal probe. Of the claim of politics, he said, “"There was no politics involved in that investigation, none, zero.”3
Mr. Freed, after some foot-dragging, indicated that he would review the case.4 This would including reviewing the case with the investigators, “to see what could have been done better or what could have been done differently.”5
To be honest with you, I am not a fan of Mr. Corbett. I have contributed to every Republican candidate for Governor of Pennsylvania since 1994, with one exception. Yes, the exception was Mr. Corbett. I can, however, state categorically he was not involved in the 1998 investigation. He wasn’t the Attorney General at the time. In 1995, Mr. Corbett was appointed Attorney General to fill a vacancy. He left office in January 1997 and ran for the office in 2004. In 1998, he was an attorney in private practice and wasn’t a prosecutor anyplace.6
There was no record and no witnesses that suggested that Mr. Gricar ever talked about the case with anyone outside of local law enforcement and his staff. There is no record of the case being sent to the Attorney General’s Office, and, in fact, no case file. Asking the Attorney’s General’s Office about what it did in 1998 is a very strange response from Ms. Kane.
There is also a strong case that the additional time was needed, though that is debatable. Even after Mr. Sandusky was indicted, two new victims came forward to the grand jury and were included in the case.
Still, there are questions about why the Sandusky case wasn’t prosecuted or further investigated in 1998. Likewise, the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) was supposed to investigate independently. It was supposed to contact The Second Mile to limit Mr. Sandusky’s access to children, yet officials at Second Mile claim to have been in the dark.7 Mr. Lauro, the DPW investigator, claimed to have never seen the Chamber’s Report, and had indicated that the report was “damning.”8 Why didn’t he have that in 1998? There is the also the question of if Mr. Gricar’s disappearance was somehow related to all of this.
An investigation or review of the Sandusky investigation would probably be a good idea. It should not however focus solely on the Attorney General’s Office in general or Mr. Corbett; it needs, to be serious and though look back to the 1998 investigations. We’ve heard both candidates talk vaguely about some form of review.
Mr. Freed has shown a willingness to see what could have been done better. A lot could have been done better in 1998, by both the then Centre County District Attorney and by the Department of Public Welfare. Looking into the former could yield some important clues to the mystery of Mr. Gricar’s disappearance. While he did not state that he would look back that far, he has limited the review in the manner his opponent has, rhetorically. His approach, which doesn’t exclude looking at what Mr. Corbett could have done better, is better than that of Ms. Kane.
I was also troubled by Ms. Kane’s initial comments, which was t asked about the involvement of the Attorney General’s Office in the 1998 investigation. At the time she asked it, it was very clear that Mr. Gricar had made the decision not to pursue the case on his own and had not involved the Attorney General. Her subsequent focus on Mr. Corbett’s actions in 2009 offer very little chance to solving the Gricar mystery or to, frankly, making sure that a situation like 1998 never occurs again.
I do not encourage people to vote just on one issue, though I do write a blog on just one issue, all things related to the disappearance of Mr. Gricar. If I were to vote solely on who might better serve that issue, my choice would be Mr. Freed. Mr. Freed's approach offers a slightly better chance of revealing new information on Mr. Gricar's disappearance. And, this time, I do get a vote. So do you. Use your choice wisely.
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