Keeping a campaign promise, Pennsylvania's new attorney general appointed a special deputy today to investigate Gov. Tom Corbett's handling of the Penn State child sexual abuse case and why it took so long to bring charges against former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.
The appointee, H. Geoffrey Moulton Jr., is "a highly respected former federal prosecutor who will assist us in providing a comprehensive and independent examination of the facts,'' Attorney General Kathleen Kane said in a news release announcing the move.
Kane, who was sworn in last month as the first woman and first Democrat to be elected attorney general, said she would make the findings public "once the facts have been uncovered," but she did not set a timeline for completing the probe nor comment further.
She had pledged during her campaign last year to investigate why it took the attorney general's office nearly three years to charge Sandusky.
Corbett, a Republican, was the attorney general for most of that time, which included his 2010 campaign for governor. He cites the successful prosecution as proof that the state investigation was effective and denied playing politics with the probe to ensure that it didn't become public while he was running for governor.
Sandusky was arrested in November 2011, nearly a year after Corbett was sworn in as governor. Sandusky was convicted of 45 child sexual abuse counts and is serving a prison term of 30 to 60 years.
Moulton, 54, a part-time associate professor at the Widener University School of Law, spent eight years as a prosecutor in the Philadelphia-based federal courts. That included four years as first assistant U.S. attorney, supervising 130 lawyers and all major cases.
He also served in senior positions in the federal government in Washington from 2009 to 2011.
Moulton will be paid an hourly rate of $72.24 an hour and will have access to experts in the attorney general's office as needed, said Ellen Mellody, Kane's spokeswoman.
The Sandusky case exploded into a nationally prominent scandal that marred the reputations of Penn State and revered football coach Joe Paterno, who died in January 2012. It also resulted in criminal cover-up charges against former university President Graham Spanier and two of his former lieutenants, and led the NCAA to impose sanctions on Penn State that included a four-year ban on bowl play and $60 million in fines.
A statewide poll conducted by Quinnipiac University last month showed the scandal has hurt the governor politically. Fifty percent of the 1,221 voters polled said they disapproved of Corbett's handling of the Penn State situation over the last few years. Twenty-six percent approved and 24 percent did not have an opinion.
However, Corbett scored some points for filing an antitrust challenge to the NCAA sanctions. The poll showed 43 percent of the respondents approved of the filing, while 37 percent disapproved.