Since word of the Jerry Sandusky case hit the state, most of the media attention was placed on Penn State administrators, former head coach Joe Paterno and former assistant coach Sandusky himself. But as more news has trickled out over the past month, some of the attention has shifted to Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett.
Corbett served as the Attorney General in 2009 when the investigation of Sandusky kicked off following a report from a boy — identified in the grand jury presentment as “Victim 1” –– who said he was sexually abused by Sandusky. When Corbett was elected governor in 2010, though, new Attorney General Linda Kelly took over the investigation. Sandusky was charged by prosecutors on Nov. 4 with 40 counts on seven charges of sexually abusing at least eight boys for more than a decade.
As governor in 2010, Corbett earned a post as a member of the Penn State Board of Trustees, but never notified anyone on the board of the investigation involving Sandusky, citing secrecy rules that are part of a grand jury investigation.
“It would reveal where we were going in the grand jury investigation,” Corbett said.
Rep. Scott Conklin’s, D-Centre, Chief of Staff Tor Michaels said his office sees Corbett’s involvement with the case as a conflict of interest and has formally called for a federal inquiry of the case rather than a state investigation.
Michaels said Conklin’s office has not heard from Corbett directly regarding their call for the federal inquiry, but has heard spokespeople from Corbett’s office deny the request. Conklin’s office called for both Corbett and Kelly to recuse themselves from the case due to a perceived conflict of interest.
This conflict of interest stems from Corbett’s seat on the Penn State Board of Trustees, as well as several reports that he received significant campaign funds from members on The Second Mile board, Michaels said.
“Clearly there is an appearance that there may be conflict and I would think that the attorney general’s office would welcome such an inquiry,” Michaels said. “It still troubles me that these serious charges were brought against Mr. Sandusky in March of 2009 and yet he continued to walk around free in 2009, 2010, 2011 — I think that the question should be: Who told who to shut up?”
Multiple calls to the governor’s press office were not returned by press time Tuesday.
Over the summer, Corbett also approved a $3 million grant to The Second Mile — Sandusky’s charity where he met the boys he sexually abused, according to a grand jury report — so that the organization could build a new facility. Since Sandusky was charged, the construction of the building has been put on hold until the organization regroups.
Corbett took office in January as Pennsylvania governor, following a long career of politics. He served as Attorney General from 1995 to 1997 and again from 2008 until January 2011, according to his website. He was widely known throughout the nation for his work as Attorney General to keep children safe from internet predators.
Corbett received his undergraduate degree from Lebanon Valley College and began his political career in the early 1980s when he served as an assistant U.S. attorney for the western district of Pennsylvania.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.