In what will likely be the most important issue of the campaign, Pennsylvania’s AG candidates each said they would have handled the Penn State University child molestation scandal differently.
After former FBI Director Louis Freeh released an investigative report last week detailing pervasive child molestation by former PSU defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky and subsequent inaction by head coach Joe Paterno and the school’s administration, the Republican candidate Dave Freed praised members of the investigation.
“The facts confirm a cover-up at the highest levels of the university — the responsibility of which lies with the administrators of the university, not the hard-working investigators,” Freed said in an article by John Baer of the Philadelphia Daily News.
“Criminal investigations are difficult and painstaking endeavors. These challenges are dramatically compounded when a crime is willfully and extensively concealed and covered up.”
But former Lackawanna County ADA Kathleen Kane, Freed’s Democratic opponent in the election, said the use of a grand jury slowed the investigation and potentially allowed Sandusky to prey on more victims.
“I specialized in the prosecution of sexual assault,” Kane said in Baer’s article. “I’ve learned that while it’s essential to gather the facts and build a case, there must be an urgency to the investigation so that alleged child predators aren’t allowed to remain on the streets, putting more children at risk.”
In addition, Kane pledged to thoroughly review the procedural aspects of the investigation if elected Attorney General.
Freed, district attorney of Cumberland County, also took the opportunity to endorse a legislative proposal related to the Sandusky case.
In an op-ed written by Freed for this morning’s edition of The Morning Call, the Republican candidate endorsed House Bill 2488, which abolishes the statute of limitations in child abuse cases.
“While the legal procedure for substantiating a crime that happened 10, 20 or even 30 years prior can be difficult, this should not preclude or deny a victim from coming forward to seek justice,” Freed wrote.
“Prosecutors and law enforcement officials are fully capable of reviewing these cases no matter when they happened.”
The debate between Freed and Kane comes amid accusations that Gov. Tom Corbett mishandled the investigation while serving as PA’s attorney general.
Last week, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Corbett erupted in anger after reporters asked him whether he should have handled the investigation differently as the state’s top prosecutor.
“Why are you all obsessed with that?” Corbett questioned.
“We do not hold up investigations for anything. You are disparaging the reputation of the men and women in that office who have worked very hard to get to the result – that justice was served and a monster was taken off the street.”