Wednesday, October 25

Eshbach's Trail of Misdeeds

While Eshbach was fingered for leaking the grand jury presentment, that wasn't the only time she operated outside the rules.

Ray Blehar

October 25, 2017, 9:45 PM EDT

During the trial of former Penn State University (PSU) President Graham Spanier, prosecution witness Mike McQueary let it slip that former Senior Deputy Attorney General Jonelle Eshbach told him they were going to arrest some people and the Office of Attorney General (OAG) was going to leak it out.

While that is likely the most famous leak in the Jerry Sandusky case, there were other leaks and it appears that Eshbach was behind at least one of them.  Moreover, when she wasn't leaking, she was apparently engaging in obstructing the investigation (and arrest) of a serial child molester and assisting in the railroading of the PSU 3.

Eshbach was assigned to the Sandusky case on March 19, 2009 by then Chief Deputy Attorney General Frank Fina.   While Eshbach was officially in charge of the investigation, the buck didn't really doesn't stop with her because Fina was supervising the case.   Fina was the head of the OAG's Criminal Law Division.

And of course, at the top of the OAG food chain during the investigation was former governor "One Term Tom" Corbett.

As reported by here and here by, some very significant  -- and potentially exculpatory -- evidence was suppressed from this case.  In addition, the Moulton Report (page 158) revealed that the dates of discovery of other evidence, such as the PSU emails, were clearly falsified.

The Moulton Report and other individuals involved in the Sandusky matter put forth considerable evidence of Eshbach's involvement in obstructing the administration of justice and in violating grand jury secrecy in the Sandusky and PSU 3 cases. 

Evidence and Analysis

June 16, 2009:  After Aaron Fisher testified before the grand jury, Eshbach and Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) Trooper Scott Rossman met briefly with Fisher's therapist, Mike Gillum.  At that meeting, they informed Gillum that "there was some other evidence that they were not yet at liberty to share" about "something that happened in 1998." (Source: Silent No More, page 120)

March 15, 2010:  Eshbach submitted a draft grand jury presentment  with the expectation it would be approved in April.  The presentment did not mention the 1998 evidence.

May 2010:  Gillum again met with Esbach who told him "there were other victims," but there was no date set for an arrest. (Source: Silent No More, page 136)

Analysis:  Eshbach (and others) knew of other victims early in the investigation because the OAG possessed the 1998 police report from the University Park police and/or the State College Borough police.  Regardless, she drafted a presentment which included only one victim.

July 14, 2010:  Eshbach pressed her her supervisory chain for approval of the presentment.   Executive Deputy Attorney General Richard Sheetz suggested running the report by then AG Tom Corbett, adding: "And, we don't like Jonelle's tone on this."

August 12, 2010:   Fina sent an email to Eshbach confirming the decision not to bring charges based on A.F.’s allegations alone, putting the grand jury presentment on hold,  and directing that the search for additional victims continue. Eshbach, while knowing there were other victims, sent an email to Fisher's mother asking for help to identify additional victims.   (Source: Moulton Report, page 148)

Analysis:  Evidence in the Moulton Report revealed that Eshbach was pushing for the approval of the presentment and the arrest of Sandusky in March 2010 with the hope that publicizing the investigation would bring forth more victims.  Fina did not agree with that approach.

September 2010:  In response to Fina's direction to find more victims, information about the 1998 investigation at PSU wound up in the hands of Jan Murphy of the Harrisburg Patriot News.  Murphy sent an email to Graham Spanier asking about his knowledge of a police investigation of Sandusky while he was a PSU employee.  (Source: Curley, Schultz, and Spanier, July 30, 2013 preliminary hearing transcript, pages 9-14)

December 29, 2010:  Eshbach authors a justification for Grand Jury Subpoena 1179 to PSU for documents relating to Sandusky and “inappropriate contact with underage males.”  

January 3, 2011:  Rossman and Corporal Leiter obtained copies of police reports of the 1998 incident involving Sandusky from the PSU police and the State College Borough Police.

Analysis:  Eshbach was doing nothing more than play acting in the OAG's theater.  The subpoena and the retrieval of documents was simply pro forma.  The Moulton Report confirmed that Fina had already seen the 1998 police report in November or December 2010.  
(Source:  Moulton Report, page 65) 

April 13, 2011:  At Spanier's grand jury colloquy, Eshbach and Fina made veiled references to the contents of the 1998 and 2001 emails of Curley, Schultz, and Spanier in order to justify a subpoena for a "deeper inquiry."  Former and now disgraced supervisory grand jury judge Barry Feudale then issued a subpoena for PSU emails prior to 1997.

July 7, 2011:  A thumb drive containing the PSU emails was provided to Trooper Rossman. (Source: Mouton Report, page 158)

Analysis: In this instance, it appears Eshbach and Fina (and Cynthia Baldwin) made misrepresentations to Judge Feudale regarding when the PSU emails were obtained.

November 4, 2011:  Eshbach telephoned McQueary to inform him that the court docket for the Sandusky charges was accidentally posted to the Internet -- blaming a computer glitch.

However, McQueary later testified at the March 2017 Spanier trial that Eshach told him the AG was going to leak the news of the arrest.

 August 23, 2016:  At Sandusky Post Conviction Relief Act (PCRA) hearing, Eshbach testified that she and Fina set a trap to see if the leaks were coming from the OAG but "no one took the bait."

Analysis: There is little doubt that Eshbach was involved in leaking secret grand jury information to in an effort to advance the Sandusky case and for her to be involved in setting a trap to catch the leaker was the proverbial "fox guarding the hen house."   

Unfortunately, Judge Foradora apparently was blind or perhaps wearing blinders when he ruled that there was no merit to the allegations that individuals from the OAG leaked the grand jury information -- and then cited the so-called "trap" and the non-investigation of the leaks by leaky Judge Feudale as evidence to support the ruling.


The evidence reveals that Eshbach has been involved multiple incidents in which evidence points to obstruction of justice and leaking grand jury evidence.  It also appears she made false statements to the court about the "trap" to catch the leaker.


  1. You make it sound like this is something we did not know for the past 6 years.

    1. Gregory,
      Eshbach was among the prime suspects for being the leaker, however, there was no confirming evidence until 2016.

  2. Are you suggesting that Eshbach telling Gillum there were other Sandusky victims was a violation of grand jury secrecy?

    Eshbach sounds corrupt but not sure how it could be proved in court beyond a reasonable doubt unless Sara Ganim would testify that Eshbach was the leaker for her Sandusky story. Ganim doesn't have to testify about her sources because of the shield law for journalists.

    Mike McQueary is merely a hearsay witness against Eshbach and not very credible in his own right.

    1. Tim,
      Yes, Eshbach violated grand jury secrecy by disclosing there were other victims because that was not disclosed until November 2011.

      Next, based on what I wrote, Ganim would testify to receiving leaked grand jury information from JAN MURPHY, not Eshbach.

      McQueary testified on two different occasions about the leak. While his credibility on numerous topics is suspect, that doesn't mean that he is not credible about Eshbach's leaks.

  3. Ray - It is hard to see how a criminal case could be made against Eshbach and/or Fina without the reporters, Ganim and Eshbach, testifying as to their sources. Without their testimony, it would require some kind of email evidence or Eshbach testifying against Fina.

    The shield law should be changed so that reporters are required to reveal sources in the case of a illegal grand jury leak.

    1. Tim,
      Well, I guess we'll have to wait until James Reeder's investigation of the Sandusky and DeNaples leaks concludes (rolling eyes).

      There is no political will to investigate and/or prosecute these leak cases.