Kane squares off with DAs on Sandusky probe

     Attorney General Kathleen Kane speaks during a news conference Friday, June 27, 2014, at the Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa. (Marc Levy/AP Photo)

    Attorney General Kathleen Kane speaks during a news conference Friday, June 27, 2014, at the Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa. (Marc Levy/AP Photo)

    It’s beginning to feel like a week without a Kathleen Kane controversy just wouldn’t be normal.

    Pennsylvania’s attorney general is now under fire from the association representing the state’s 67 county district attorneys. In a statement released yesterday, the group’s 12-member executive board castigates Kane for comments she made when she released her independent review of the Jerry Sandusky child abuse investigation.

    A statement from the association says the study of the Sandusky investigation by former U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Moulton arose “arose not from evidence, but as talking points in Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s election campaign.”

    The DAs say the report itself is serious and well done, but they’re concerned that “any valuable lessons in the report will be overshadowed by the attorney general’s continued public attacks on the successful work of career prosecutors. The focus on winning the news cycle must end.”

    Moulton’s report, you’ll recall, found no evidence of political interference in the Sandusky investigation, but raised questions about some of the decisions prosecutors made while gathering evidence against Sandusky.

    When Kane released the report, she went further than Moulton in criticizing the pace of the investigation and said in response to a reporter’s question that she had information that two kids were abused by Sandusky in the fall of 2009, a few months after the investigation had begun.

    Kane said at the time that neither of the victims were among those previously identified in the case, but it turns out that’s not the case. One of them testified at the trial, and Sandusky was convicted of abusing the youth.

    But Kane wasn’t backing down today in the face of the DAs’ broadside. She wasn’t available for comment, but released a statement in which she said there’s “no question that there were inexplicable delays and failures to take basic investigative steps early on in this investigation.” Kane said there’s evidence of two children  being abused into the fall of 2009, adding that “our focus is on protecting children rather than trying to score political points.”

    Richard Long, the executive director of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association, told me the organizations’s 12-member executive committee decided unanimously to issue the statement.

    “We felt that [Kane’s] comments were detrimental to the public’s confidence in prosecutors,” Long said. “And what our association does is support the prosecutors and the prosecution function, which is so vital to our criminal justice system.”

    To state the obvious, it’s not a good day for the state’s leading law enforcement official when a bipartisan group of the state’s prosecutors says publicly that you screwed up.

    I’ll also note that on the 12-member executive committee of the association is Philadelphia DA Seth Williams, who’s feuded publicly with Kane over this and other issues and who employs Frank Fina, the lead prosecutor in the Sandusky investigation.


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