Thursday, March 24

Corbett's Grand Jury Lie, Part 2

If Corbett's assertion that the AG needed a grand jury to prove a cover-up was true, then the outcome for the former one-term governor is even worse


Ray Blehar

For Corbett, if his statement was true
then he confessed to foot-dragging.

While the official facts in evidence refute former Pennsylvania Attorney General (AG) and former Governor Tom Corbett's statement about needing a grand jury to coerce testimony and prove a cover-up, the irony is that if his statement was true, it is an admission of not investigating a cover up and/or foot-dragging on the investigation for political reasons.

As noted here, the facts in evidence were that the AG's office didn't find another victim to corroborate Aaron Fisher allegations until January 2011. 

If there wasn't evidence of more than one victim --and that Fisher reported Sandusky to the authorities -- then there was no evidence that supported a cover-up.

But what if Corbett was telling the truth?  In this case, the truth is worse than a lie.

Under one of the "truth" scenarios, the AG's office may have had a hunch that the reason the other young men that were interviewed didn't disclose abuse was because some person or persons had provided them with some material incentive not to talk.  

While it is possible that victims may have been physically threatened,  the only known victim, Fisher, came forward without fear of physical harm in November 2008.   And, like the other eventual victims, Fisher received gifts from Sandusky, such as new clothes, computers, and sports equipment.   

In short, the most likely suspect in a cover-up scenario would have been none other than the perpetrator, Jerry Sandusky.  

The Jerry Sandusky Non-Investigation

According to the Moulton Report, there is no evidence that the investigation searched Sandusky's personal records to verify purchases or to check for cash (ATM) withdrawals -- his bank account and credit card records were not subpoenaed.  

Fisher also stated he attended sporting events, such as Eagles and Browns National Football League (NFL) games with Sandusky, sometimes in the company of other children.  

Here's where the story gets interesting. 

In late 2009, Dawn Daniels claimed that she was offered free Philadelphia Eagles box seat season tickets.  In the book, Silent No More (p. 117), Mike Gillum noted that a man named "John" from the Eagles, who knew that Aaron had attended games and had set the tickets aside for them. 

At the time of the alleged offer, Sandusky's adopted son, Jon, worked for the Eagles.  He would later get a job with the Browns.

The AG "investigated" the Eagles ticket allegation and took the word of the Eagles -- that the family misunderstood and were being asked to purchase tickets.  Right -- because the Eagles routinely phone housing projects in search of prospective season ticket purchasers.  

In the one instance where a possible cover-up/payoff scenario was alleged, it appeared to be investigated pro forma and dismissed.  The "John" - "Jon" connection wasn't made.

If Sandusky was the prime suspect, then the first information subpoenaed about him were his employment records -- requested on January 7, 2010. That was almost seven months into the investigation and employment records would not provide evidence  of a cover-up.  

In fact, in the inexplicable Sandusky investigation, the evidence apparently reveals that the AG didn't consider Sandusky could have been a suspect for covering up his own crimes! 

But don't expect Bumsted or the rest of the media to figure this stuff out.

News reporters, most without any knowledge of the case, might propose that Corbett and the AG suspected that officials at Central Mountain High School (CMHS) or from The Second Mile (TSM) were behind the alleged cover-up.

Under those scenarios, there is also a dearth of evidence of even a half-hearted cover-up investigation.

CMHS Non-Investigation

According to the Moulton Report, the only CMHS individual interviewed by the police -- prior to July 28, 2011 -- was assistant principal and head football coach, Steven Turchetta.   Again, Corbett said he needed the grand jury to coerce testimony.  

Who was being coerced?  Turchetta was a cooperating witness.

Certainly, there is no evidence on the record supporting a cover-up investigation of CMHS.

The Non-Investigation of The Second Mile

Geoffrey Moulton used the word "inexplicable" to explain the delays in getting warrants for Sandusky's home and making an arrest.   However, that same word applies to the Pennsylvania State Police's (PSP) failure to interview individuals and gather evidence from The Second Mile (TSM) as a means of identifying potential victims.

Moreover, if there was an organization that should have been suspected of covering up Sandusky's crimes, TSM should have been at the top of the list.  Sandusky was the organizations founder, face, and top fundraiser. 

As history shows, without Sandusky, TSM could not exist.  

Even if the PSP didn't understand the financial incentive for a TSM cover-up, they had plenty of leads that should have caused them to visit the charity early in the investigation.   The first seven people interviewed by the PSP all mentioned Sandusky's association with TSM and his work in mentoring young men.  

The PSP continued to investigate the case when it was ensconced  in the grand jury.  

In August 2009, F.A., a former CMHS student, testified to the grand jury about being a TSM participant and being in the car with Fisher and Sandusky.   Following F.A.'s testimony, Agent Anthony Sassano drafted a list of investigative steps that excluded contacting anyone associated with the charity.  In reading the email below, the incompetency of Sassano is evident -- and likely explains why he was assigned to the case.

Even if Sassano was incompetent, he was being overseen by a seasoned prosecutor, Jonelle Eshbach, who had prosecuted many sexual abuse cases.  Eshbach should have been the "backstop" that made sure investigators didn't miss anything.

Instead, it appeared that Eshbach was equally avoiding investigating TSM, as this request for subpoena reveals the gymnastics that had to be undertaken to not request records from the charity, but justify a request to Penn State.

It is notable that Eshbach and the AG had "some suspicion" -- based on no evidence on the official record -- that PSU had knowledge of Sandusky's inappropriate behavior with children. 

More on that in a second.

In summary, the evidence shows that if Corbett and the AG suspected a cover-up, then it failed to investigate any of the most probable suspects until 2011.  Based on the official record of evidence, the Sandusky grand jury was not investigating a cover-up or coercing any witness testimony.

Suppressed Evidence Equals Electoral Foot-Dragging or Worse
Eshbach's subpoena request is among the earliest official records indicating the AG may have obtained information about the PSU incidents earlier than November 2010.

The unofficial record may help fill in the blanks.

Mike Gillum, in Silent No More (p. 120), stated that on June 16, 2009,  Eshbach and Trooper Scott Rossman "indicated there was some other evidence they weren't at liberty to share with me.  It was something that happened in 1998."

While the official record states the 1998 University Park police report was not obtained until January 3, 2011, Gillum's account reveals that the AG got its hands on the 1998 report much earlier -- in fact, it appears that they possessed it around the time of the grand jury began.

If that was really the case, then Corbett might have been telling the truth about using the grand jury to prove a cover-up.  Except there's a problem with the 1998 police report.

It doesn't provide evidence or suspicion of a cover-up by PSU.

In fact, it shows the opposite because PSU immediately reached out to the DA's office and Centre County CYS to assist with the 1998 investigation.

That leads to the highly probable scenario that if Corbett suspected a PSU cover-up, then he had knowledge of the 2001 incident when the grand jury was convened.

The fact that the anonymous email tip on the incident showed up the day after Corbett was elected governor provides additional evidence that he was sitting on that evidence until after the election.

In summary, the circumstantial evidence in the case indicates that foot-dragging on the Sandusky case was politically motivated.  It also indicates that the AG could have found victims and made Sandusky's arrest much sooner. 

But arresting Sandusky wasn't part of the original plan -- and that's really why the foot-dragging occurred.  

The Sandusky investigation was supposed to die a slow, secret death in the grand jury.

Next: Corbett's Grand Jury Lie, Part 3


  1. It's a tough choice - cover up or ineptitude.

    That choice comes up again and again in this case, the 1984 Sandusky complaint Fina dug up that no police investigated, the 1998 Sandusky investigation by DPW, the 2009-2011 Corbett-Kelly investigation of Sandusky and even the Moulton investigation, which was a big dud.

    Eshbach's email makes her look inept or acting on orders from someone to pin it on PSU. Second Mile and CYS knew Sandusky's interactions with boys far better than PSU and had strong motives to cover up. Did Moulton interview Eshbach?

    1. Tim,
      Thanks for your comment.

      I don't think it's a tough call at all. As I wrote at the end of the piece, Corbett didn't plan to prosecute Sandusky and the PA State Police helped him by not assigning anyone with experience investigating child sex abuse cases on the case. The AG assigned Sassano, who only investigated one abuse case prior to this one.

      As I wrote in Report 3, the police failed to follow numerous leads in the case. After writing the report, more evidence of their failures surfaced. Aaron Fisher identified Victim 9 early in the investigation and told police that he went to another school. The Moulton Report omitted that fact.

      Even though the Moulton Report is considered a dud because it didn't implicate Corbett, it showed that NO ACTIVE INVESTIGATING occurred from February 2010 to October 2010. This more or less confirms that no one was really trying to find the evidence of Sandusky committing crimes.

      Fina was admonished by the Superior Court for deceiving Feudale about the scope of his questioning of Cynthia Baldwin. His claim of a 1984 incident at PSU was another deception. He used it to justify a search of the entire history of emails at PSU. T

      Moulton didn't interview Eshbach. She did, however, respond to the draft version of his report and mostly concurred with its findings.

      Eshbach accepted only two of Sassano's recommendations -- rejecting contacting CYS and obtaining the search warrant. Given what happened at the grand jury of Spanier, I have to conclude Eshbach was told to let the case die and her actions in trying to get a presentment approved were nothing more than window dressing or filling in the time until the case got dropped.

      Everything changed in October 2010, however.

    2. I thought the Moulton Report was a dud because it offered only a few mild criticisms when many more, very strong criticisms were warranted. For example, Moulton didn't mention the two victims who claimed they were being abused for months during the Corbett investigation.

      It also contained far fewer facts on how the investigation was conducted than I expected.

      The Eshbach email you included above also raised the question of serious grand jury abuses that Moulton didn't address. The grand jury was tasked with investigating Sandusky but the email indicted they were suspicious of PSU administrators, who they called to testify under false pretenses.

  2. Were it not for some loose lips within TSM and the wrong or depending on your opinion the right people finding out about the investigation, it may have indeed died on the vine.

    1. Misder2,
      Thanks for your comment.

      Loose lips indeed.

    2. I must have missed (or forgotten!) something. What are you implying here? BTW, another interesting piece of investigation. Thanks Ray.

    3. Dorothy,
      Thanks for the kind words. I don't think you missed or forgot anything because most things happened "behind closed doors."