Gov. Tom Corbett has been treading carefully when speaking about the allegations of child sex abuse against former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.
At the first press conference where he answered questions about the Sandusky case, Corbett warned reporters that he could not go into details of the grand jury investigation that began on his watch as Pennsylvania’s attorney general.
“Again, I can’t go into that right now. I would love to. I hope you all know I would love to,” Corbett said. “But I can’t.”
Respecting grand jury secrecy means Corbett can’t hint at what he’d like to say, according to Lawrence Fox, a legal ethics lecturer at Yale Law School.
“You can’t get around it by saying something like, ‘I wish I could share with you all the really good stuff that’s in the grand jury,’ because now he’s breaching grand jury secrecy,” Fox said.
Another ethics expert said Corbett can’t be expected to clamp down completely, as the commonwealth’s top official in a case that involves state law enforcement, state-funded institutions such as Penn State, and Sandusky’s charity itself, recently discovered to have been slated to get state money.
“On the other hand, he shouldn’t delve into details of what’s involved. The details are still forthcoming, investigations are going on,” said Geoffrey Hazard, a former professor of legal ethics at University of Pennsylvania who now teaches law at the University of California in San Francisco.
“So, if he makes sort of general observations, I think that’s entirely appropriate,” Hazard said.