Thursday, November 15

Sandusky Investigation Was The Bible on How NOT to Conduct An Investigation

The OAG investigation of Sandusky ignored the DOJ's "Child Molester Investigator's Bible" and unnecessarily endangered Pennsylvania's children for nearly three years

by Ray Blehar 

When comparing the Jerry Sandusky investigation with the procedures outlined in the  U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) guidelines for conducting child abuse investigations, it is clear  that the Pennsylvania State Police and the Office of Attorney General botched the investigation from the start, never got it on track, and let it languish until Aaron Fisher threatened to walk away in August 2011.  

A task force was not established until April 2011:  The first step in any child abuse investigation is to establish a multi-disciplined task force of highly trained individuals.  In the Sandusky investigation, the well trained state police officer who normally worked the cases, Officer Patterson, was replaced by a host of state troopers who did not have the requisite training.   The police in this case had little interaction with the social service professionals, such as Mike Gillum, throughout the investigation.  And all of the victims who were brought to trial were found before the establishment of the task force. 

A search warrant of Sandusky’s home was not obtained until July 2011:  According to the DOJ, the major law-enforcement problem with the use of search warrants in child-sexual victimization cases is that they are not obtained soon enough. In many cases investigators have probable cause for a search warrant but don’t know it. Because evidence can be moved, hidden, or destroyed so quickly, search warrants should be obtained as soon as legally possible. Waiting too long and developing, in essence, too much probable cause also might subject investigative agencies to criticism or even lawsuits claiming this delay allowed additional victims to be molested.  It took 31 months for the police to get a warrant for Sandusky's home and that is inexcusable.

Time tested investigative techniques were not used.  Proactive investigation involves the use of surveillance, subject interviews, mail covers, undercover correspondence, “sting” operations, reverse “sting” operations, and online computer operations.  In the Sandusky case, agent Sassano mentioned the use of surveillance and there was one wiretap done, but there was no mention the use of any of the other techniques.   It is well established that pedophiles utilize internet chat rooms, e-mail, pornography, and other on-line experiences to reach their victims, however no investigator testified or mentioned using these avenues of investigation. Additionally, Sandusky’s frequent interaction with children through Second Mile programs should have provided ample opportunities for “sting” operations.  Once you understand what could have been done to bring Sandusky to justice, it certainly begs the question about how hard the police were trying to find victims and evidence.  .

The following timeline is a work in progress, but it is the most complete you will find anywhere regarding this investigation. The bold text highlights when Victims were identified.  The red text identifies critical investigative steps for child abuse investigations.

Jerry Sandusky Investigation Timeline – December 2008 to November 2011

November 2008:                 Aaron Fisher reported abuse to Clinton County CYS (Victim 1)
December 2008:                State Troopers Cavanaugh and Akers interview Aaron Fisher

January 2009:                    Clinton County CYS made “indicated finding” of abuse against Jerry Sandusky
February 2009:                  State Trooper Lear replaced Cavanaugh & Akers. 
March 12, 2009:                 Sandusky case assigned to Attorney General Corbett’s office.
March 19, 2009:                 Trooper Lear interviewed Aaron Fisher.
June 2009:                         AG’s office learned of 1998 Sandusky incident.
June 2009:                         Trooper Scott Rossman replaced Lear.
June 16, 2009:                   Grand Jury (GJ)  convened.  Aaron Fisher testified.
June 22, 2009:                   Detective Tony Sassano joined investigation. Wiretap at Fisher’s home.
Nov 16, 2009:                     Fisher again testified before the GJ.

February 2010:                 GJ subpoenaed Second Mile employee records starting with “S.”
August 2010:                    Dawn Daniels (Fisher’s mother) phoned FBI office to complain about case.          
November 2010:                Anonymous e-mail tip to Centre County DA identified McQueary incident.
Nov 22, 23, 2010:              McQueary interviewed by Sassano and Rossman (Victim 2)
December 2010:                Mother of Victim 6 called police (contact info supplied by Sara Ganim).
December 2010:                Mother of Victim 6 identified Victims 3, 4, 5, and 7 using book Touched
December 2010:                Mike McQueary testified before the 30th GJ.

January 3, 2011:                State police obtained 1998 University Park Police report.
January 12, 2011:              Paterno, Curley, and Schultz testified before the 30th GJ.
January 18, 2011:              Tom Corbett sworn in as governor.  William Ryan is Acting AG.
January 2011:                    Sassano delivers search warrant for Second Mile documents going back decades.

January 2011:                  Investigative task force expanded: 8 troopers and 4 agents.
February 2011:                   Karen Arnold, former ADA, testified before 33rd grand jury.

March 2011:                      Rossman asked Fisher if he was Victim 2. Fisher denied showering with Sandusky.
March 2011:                       PSU janitor, Ronald Petrosky, called Detective Sassano (Victim 8)
March 31, 2011:                 Patriot News reported Sandusky GJ investigation.
April 11, 2011:                    Fisher testified for a third time at the GJ.
May 9,10, 2011:                 GJ subpoenaed names of football staff employees
May 11, 2011:                    GJ subpoenaed names of PSU Physical Plant employees dating back to 1990.
May 23, 2011:                     Linda Kelly sworn in as new AG.  Replaces Acting AG, William Ryan.
June 21, 2011:                   State police obtained search warrant for Sandusky’s home.
July 2011:                           Grand jury filed secret contempt motion against Second Mile

August 2011:                      Aaron Fisher threatened to walk away from prosecution.
October 2011:                     Contempt charge dropped against Second Mile.
November 4, 2011:              Sandusky charged with 52 counts of child abuse.
Sources: Press Reports, the Freeh Report, and Silent No More

Questionable Activities  
In 35 months, the police and OAG investigators were unable to find any victims.  All the victims brought to trial either self-identified or were reported to the police by citizens.

The time lag from June 2009 discovery of the 1998 incident involving Sandusky and obtaining the police file in January 2011 is highly unusual (I'm being generous here).

Trooper Scott Rossman's assertion that 50 or 60 people were interviewed is more confirmation that the minimum was done, considering that the investigation lasted 35 months and a sizeable portion of the people interviewed were employees of Penn State (the football staff and Office of Physical Plant employees back to 1990 were interviewed).  

It appears as if forming the task force and obtaining the search warrant of Sandusky's home were little more than a "checking the box" activities to show that the investigation was done "by the book."  Neither activity surfaced a victim.  

 While then-AG Tom Corbett may not have directly ordered this investigation to be slow-rolled, the investigative activities were conducted in stark contrast to the recommended steps by the U.S. DOJ.   That being the case, Corbett’s failure to properly supervise this investigation from December 2008 to January 2011 endangered the welfare of children.



  2. Hi Ray,

    I posted an article that a fellow Alumni member shared with me...pretty disturbing as to how this case was handled, or more appropriately, mishandled...we can't learn from the wrongs until the whole truth of mishandling comes out....Keep fighting the good fight! I pray that the truth, the complete truth, will become evident and clear...

  3. Mike S,
    I have been assured this report has been sent to Kathleen Kane.

    We are working other avenues as well.

    This false narrative will not stand up under scrutiny.


  4. Ray;
    I cannot miss the irony of this.
    1. The Two TOP law enforcement officials in the state of Pennsylvania (Corbett and Noonan) spent decades gaining their law enforcement experience in the US Dept of Justice.
    2. That same US Dept of Justice creates a unit, (The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children) to assist state and local law enforcement in investigating child predator cases.
    3. The US Dept of Justice then creates guidelines for prioritizing and conducting the investigations.
    4. Corbett and Noonan then fail to even consult with it and chose instead to risk the welfare of the children of the state for nearly 3 years.
    5. Either one of them could have, or directed one of the investigators, to take a ride to FBI in Quantico and gotten some help in the conduct of the investigation.

    That is Outlandish and anyone concerned with the welfare of children should be outraged at the conduct of the investigation. Corbett touts that the proof that he did things right, is the convictions of Sandusky. He apparently missed the universal law enforcement creed that Protecting the Public is the number one priority.

    Some additional Corbett quotes, “You people don’t know how investigations work. They take time.” “We provided the investigators every resource they asked for.” “Decisions were made with input from a host of professionals.”

    A revealing Noonan quote, “I can say that I was intimately involved in every decision that was made in this case.” “Gov. Corbett gave us everything we needed to do the investigation and was anxious for it to be concluded as quickly as possible, and I know that because I was involved with it and with him the entire time.”

    They are using Classic bureaucratic rhetoric. The investigators should be sprinting into AG Kane’s office to explain themselves. Corbett and Noonan’s statements already laid the ground work for any blame for the failings of the investigation on the investigators, and their lack of recognizing the need for resources.

    Not setting up some sort of monitoring of Sandusky is unforgiveable. With “any resource we needed” available, they had many options from surveillance, to GPS tracking, to Cell Phone tracking, to wiretaps, to pen registers. They could easily have identified patterns of activity to focus on and at least tell the public that they did all they could to Protect the Public.

  5. Thanks, Mike. Those are some amazing comments by Corbett and Noonan....I'll have to work those into a future post.

    Happy thanksgiving to you and yours,