The media coverage of the Curley, Schultz, and Spanier preliminary hearings was much like its coverage of the Sandusky trial. At the Sandusky trial, when the defense scored points, the keyboards were silent.
So too at the preliminary hearing.
To find out that the defense scored major points at the preliminary hearing you had to read about it on FramingPaterno.com or on this blog. If you relied on reporters from the Centre Daily Times or the Patriot News, you would not have learned that Corro and Belcher discredited a number of Louis Freeh's and the OAG's allegations of obstruction of justice.
Similary, the reporters missed a lot of revelations from police Chief Tom Harmon.
Harmon Never Provided 1998 Police Report To SchultzIn what was the most surprising turn of events regarding the 2001 case, Tom Harmon stated he never provided the 1998 police report to Gary Schultz for his review in 2001. Thus the handwritten note (Exhibit 5C, dated 12 February 2001) by Schultz, stating "reviewed 1998 history" becomes a very curious piece of information. What history was reviewed if Schultz never received the police report? Harmon did not state, under direct questioning or otherwise that he ever provided the 1998 report to Schultz. Harmon's testimony (under cross examination) is below and it appears Schultz only inquired as to the report's existence, but never asked to see the file.
The e-mail evidence in the Freeh Report, specifically Exhibit 5D, confirms that Harmon acknowledged the existence of the police report file but there is absolutely no evidence to date proving that he turned it over to Schultz. If he had, the Commonwealth surely would have elicited that testimony under direct examination. And if Harmon had done so, the Commonwealth certainly would have clarified this under re-direct. Thus his testimony confirms Schultz never received the file from him and, very likely, testified truthfully to having no knowledge of the 1998 police report during his January 2011 grand jury appearance.
One of the perjury charges in the case is based on the allegation that Schultz knew the details of the 1998 case when he was questioned about it at the grand jury.
The particulars of this allegation were provided to the courts on March 30, 2012, before the alleged "discovery" of the "secret file" by Freeh in May (or the actual turnover of the file to the OAG in April 2012). Therefore, the allegation is predicated on either Schultz's assumed knowledge of the case from the police report (which he never saw) or from e-mail evidence turned over to the OAG.
The e-mail evidence is non-specific, therefore, the basis for the perjury charge when it was made was highly dubious -- unless the OAG possessed the Schultz "secret file" that indicated the level of details known to Schultz about the case in 1998. That he could not recall details of the 1998 case 13 years later isn't perjury, it's more likely a limitation of Schultz's memory
The "secret file" of Schultz appears to be the gift that keeps on giving....
Additional Information In the Schultz FileAs I wrote in this blog post, there were a number of documents referenced in the Freeh Report, pertaining to the 1998 investigation, that were not included as exhibits in the report. I also opined that there may have been chain of custody issues with the file and exculpatory evidence removed after former PSU General Counsel, Cynthia Baldwin was allegedly alerted to the file on January 5, 2011 or shortly thereafter.
Harmon's testimony revealed yet another document (Commowealth's Exhibit 13) - a handwritten note by Schultz of May 5th, 1998 - that was previously unknown to the public. The note contained five bullet points, one of which stated that the Dr. Alycia Chambers did indeed make her report to the DPW. See below.
This fact was somewhat muted in the Freeh Report (page 42) as it reported Chambers contact as a "report to the Pennsylvania child abuse line." This language was pulled from Dr. Chambers report (page 8/25), however, the call was indeed made to the hotline operated by DPW and the report was made early in the investigation. This can also be confirmed by the handwritten note (Freeh Report Exhibit 2H, 5 May 1998) of Schultz, stating "Mother to psychologist & said she would call child abuse hot line & will generate an incident number - with Dept of Public Welfare." Thus, PSU officials had knowledge of Chambers' contact with DPW by May 5th, but no details of the report until May 8th.
The police report provides evidence that Detective Ronald Schreffler and Wayne Weaver (who reviewed the report) saw the Chambers report. Harmon testified to no knowledge of the two "psychologists" being involved in the case when questioned at the December 16, 2011 Preliminary Perjury hearing. The "secret file" indicates Harmon had informed Schultz about Dr. Chambers, thus Harmon was either lying or had a poor memory (most likely the latter - more on that in a future blogpost). Schultz was not asked about his knowledge of the Chambers report or its contents. It would be speculative to assume Schultz was shown this file, given there is no evidence (to date) he ever actually reviewed the 1998 police file.
As part of my investigation, I contacted Dr. Chambers on October 16, 2012 at 11:00 AM and discussed her reporting on the case. She informed me that she released her report to the University Park police and Centre County CYS. The report to CYS is very significant because, according to the 1998 police report, DPW's Lauro reviewed the file of CYS's John Miller on May 7 and stayed in contact with Miller at least through May 8, when the Seasock interview was arranged. In addition, she confirmed that she provided her report orally to ChildLine.
While this does not prove that Lauro actually saw the Chambers report, it is clear that all agencies involved possessed either a written or oral report regarding her assessment of the situation by May 8, 1998 and that DPW possessed the oral report by May 5, 1998. The investigation did not conclude until June 1, 1998, which certainly provided Lauro and others with ample opportunity to discuss all of the known details of the case before rendering a decision. The question remains, what did DPW know and when did they know it?
That's not the only thing that is raises questions about DPW's investigation, however.
DPW 1998 ChicaneryPress reporting on the case led the public to believe that the assignment of Jerry Lauro from the Harrisburg office of Department of Public Welfare (DPW) was a result of a conflict of interest between Centre County Children and Youth Services (CYS) and The Second Mile (TSM). The Freeh Report added the twist that DPW from Harrisburg (Lauro) was brought in because it was a high profile abuse case (page 45).
Freeh's statement was easily debunked by reviewing not only DPW's policies and the Public Welfare Code, but by researching the work history of Jerry Lauro. First, there are no provisions in policy or the code for "high profile" abuse cases.
Next, Had Lauro been this "high profile" investigator, then it would have been reasonable to see his name associated with the high profile Milton Hershey School case involving pedophile Charles Koons, considering Hershey is right next door to Harrisburg. Not a mention of Lauro anywhere.
Finallly, wouldn't the DPW have dispatched Lauro, their "high profile" investigator to look into the Roman Catholic church abuse case in Philadelphia? No association there either, even though Lauro was still a fixture at DPW in 2005.
The bottom line here is that Lauro does not appear to be what he was characterized to be, but the more important information that slipped by was that the Altoona/Cresson office of DPW, not Harrisburg, should have been assigned to the case.
Harmon's testimony (page 77) revealed that in an undisclosed e-mail dated May 5, 1998, he informed Schultz that the DPW Office of Children Youth and Families (OCYF) in Altoona was contacted about the case and that he was going to "hold off on making a crime log entry." This information about contacting the Altoona office is never mentioned in the Freeh Report (pages 20 & 48) or in press reporting about the case.
Altoona (Cresson) Not Harrisburg
Yet another piece of missing information surfaced from Harmon's testimony. This one was a May 6, 1998 e-mail again making reference to DPW's involvement in the case. On that date, Harmon learned that the DPW office in Cresson would not be handling the case and instead someone from the Harrisburg office would be assigned. See below.
While there may be a perfectly reasonable explanation for the assignment of the Harrisburg office, such as Cresson/Altoona's regional program specialist being unavailable, the redaction of this information in the Freeh Report (the e-mails of 5 and 6 May from Harmon to Schultz is not in the exhibits) obviously bolsters the case that Freeh's report was not as "full and complete" as it proclaimed to be on page 8 and raises a question about the assignment of the Harrisburg office to the case.
ConclusionHarmon's testimony cast serious doubts on the level of knowledge Schultz had about the 1998 case and the validity of the perjury charges. The press, who obviously have not invested the time to understand the details of the case, missed these facts and others from Harmon that did considerable damage to the Commonwealth's case.
Next: Harmon may have been responsible for Pandora's Box statement