It seems the only person to experience a victory after the years-long saga of convicted child molester and former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky is Sandusky himself.
Convicted in 2012 of sexually assaulting at least 10 boys over a 15-year period, Sandusky accessed children through The Second Mile, his foundation that was supposed to help underprivileged youth. He assaulted at least one of his victims on Penn State’s campus.
Now a Commonwealth Court panel has ruled that the state wrongly took away Sandusky’s pension after his conviction on 45 counts of sexual assault. The ruling could be legally correct, since Sandusky was not a Penn State employee when the crimes occurred. But it’s in conflict with the spirit of the law, since Sandusky committed at least one of his crimes in the showers used by the Penn State football team—a venue he could not have accessed without his connection to the program.
That means Sandusky wins, which is ironic, given what happened to everyone else who was even tangentially connected to the case.
Former Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno died in disgrace shortly after being fired by the university. Former Penn State Athletic Director Tim Curley and former Penn State President Graham Spanier were fired and criminally charged with covering up Sandusky’s crimes. And Kathleen Kane, who won the race for Pennsylvania Attorney General after calling out prosecutors for their perceived foot-dragging in the case, is being run out of office in a manner rarely seen in Pennsylvania politics.
It didn’t start that way for Kane, but like everything else in the Sandusky case, the dramatic turn of events for her is strange, to say the least.
Upon taking office, Kane brought in special investigator Geoffrey Moulton to take a 16-month look at the Sandusky investigation, and Moulton’s report said state prosecutors could have acted faster in several aspects of the case, including searching Sandusky’s home. The prosecutors in question, including Frank Fina, called the report politically motivated.
That’s when a very public feud began.
Kane said a sting operation led by Fina against four black officials was tinged by racism. Fina said it wasn’t, and along with his new employer, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, successfully prosecuted the officials.
After a flurry of news stories, Kane dropped a bombshell. While looking into the Sandusky case, she’d discovered that Fina, along with several prosecutors and Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justices J. Thomas Eakin and Seamus McCaffery, had used state computers to send and receive pornographic and racist images.
Kane has been releasing those images to the public, even as she faces her own legal issues. She is under investigation for allegedly leaking secret grand jury material to a reporter in an attempt to embarrass Fina, and then lying about it. Kane has had her law license suspended by the Supreme Court in accordance with a recommendation by a disciplinary board for lawyers. And Governor Wolf and others have called on Kane to resign.
Meanwhile, it’s been revealed that Robert Graci, one of the men who served on the board that decided not to initially punish Justice Eakin for his involvement in sending and receiving pornographic emails, was the judge’s longtime friend and campaign operative. Graci did not reveal that conflict until it was reported by a newspaper.
But wait, it gets better. Eugene Dooley, one of 12 members of the state Judicial Conduct Board deciding on whether to punish Justice Eakin, was a recipient of pornographic emails received by Justice McCaffery, according to the Inquirer.
That means the very people who should be prosecuting sexual predators are themselves trading pornographic material on government computers. Not only that. The people charged with watching the elected officials are their friends.
So even as convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky wins a victory by securing his pension, everyday Pennsylvanians have lost.
We’ve lost any reason to trust in a system rife with conflicts of interest. We’ve lost to politicians with personal agendas. We’ve lost to the messages behind sexist and racist emails.
That’s a shame, because hard-working Pennsylvanians shouldn’t lose in the criminal justice system. Criminals like Jerry Sandusky should.
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