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Sandusky report

Published June 26. 2014 04:00PM

Kathleen Kane ran and won her race for attorney general in part by promising to see whether Tom Corbett slow-walked the Jerry Sandusky investigation to help his winning campaign for governor.

A year and a half later, the answer to that potentially explosive question is a resounding, definitive "no."

It was a reasonable question to ask, given public skepticism about the case, and Kane's investigator, Geoffrey Moulton, has given it a fair answer.

His exhaustive report indicates that questionable decisions in handling of the case, not politics, explains much of why three years elapsed between Victim A.F.'s report to authorities and the criminal charges against Sandusky.

In the end, instead of producing a political bombshell, the Kane-Moulton report is a helpful exercise in "lessons learned."

In coming to that conclusion, Moulton was mindful of how hindsight can produce 20-20 vision. He evaluated decisions based on what investigators knew then, not what we all know now.

But as the report notes, some of the investigative team's decisions were puzzling and "difficult to defend."

The reasons for holding off so long on searching Sandusky's house, the report says, were hardly compelling. Executing such searches relatively early, the report notes, is a good way to produce leads to other victims.

It took five months for higher-ups to answer a simple question from the lead prosecutor: Are we going forward with a case involving just one victim or do we dig harder to find more victims? During that five months, the investigation ground to a halt.

Most mystifying of all - why didn't investigators check sooner with police at State College and Penn State about other potential reports involving Sandusky? That step was the one that broke the case wide open.

It led investigators to a troubling 1998 incident that was reported but not prosecuted and eventually revealed four more victims.

In cases like this, where a single victim emerges to accuse a "pillar of the community," one lesson is that investigators should plan from the start to search long and hard for other victims. Child predators like Sandusky seldom limit their odious offenses to a single victim.

The report said when a child sex predator case lands at the attorney general's office, it needs to get regular and timely attention from supervisors, especially as a new attorney general takes over.

The Kane-Moulton report looked only at the attorney general's office role in the case. It didn't study why other authorities missed chances to catch Sandusky much earlier and prevent years of abuse against multiple victims.

As the report notes, the Sandusky prosecution eventually did put a child predator behind bars for what is almost certainly the rest of his life.

And the publicity surrounding it heightened awareness of sexual abuse across the state.

That awareness should encourage more victims to come forward. And when they do, the report offers good advice to ensure that future cases of sexual abuse will be investigated promptly and thoroughly, and the perpetrators will be brought to timely justice.

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