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Read the entire essay on Penn State, Jerry Sandusky and Gov. Tom Corbett.
1. Busted: Narcotics agent nabs Jerry Sandusky
2. 'JoePa' takes the fall: A slow Tom Corbett throws Joe Paterno under the bus
3. The Magic Moment: Six decades of Pennsylvania governors, AGs, and the state Republican Party
Part 1 The Appointed Years 1950 to 1980 >
Part 2 The Elective Years 1980 to 1995 >
An insider's timeline of the Corbett/Sandusky/PSU scandal
A timeline decades in the making
Editor's note: There's obviously more to the Penn State/Jerry Sandusky scandal than meets the eye. A long history of politics, insider favoritism, and misbehavior in the Pennsylvania attorney general's office informs us that, like an iceberg, there's more beneath the surface than the Sandusky pedophilia charges indicate.
Events took place over decades, many people are involved, and it's a complex story. To help sort things out, yardbird.com has put together a detailed timeline based on public record, published accounts, and information from those close to the investigation.
This timeline is meant to help readers understand the internal workings and performance of various Pennsylvania state agencies in the Sandusky case, especially the timing of important events involving Pennsylvania's Office of Attorney General.
An important work product of the Attorney General's office in the Sandusky case was what is called in Pennsylvania the grand jury "presentment," which is similar to an indictment.
Some of the most controversial events set forth in the 2011 presentment are here mentioned. This timeline does not attempt to reconcile factual complaints some now have with the presentment, or with various aspects and minutia of the unfolding legal cases. (Whether a boy's hair could really have been wet; what a janitor or a grad student may or may not have seen or told someone about; whether this or that witness was credible; or everyone's supposed motives, etc.)
Rather, we've elected to simply report what the presentment says. If every factual quibble every critic now has with the presentment could be listed in the timeline, it would be unreadable, too long, and still not everyone would agree. So judge for yourself what everyone was doing, or not doing, and the quality of the investigations, or lack thereof.
This timeline is an ongoing attempt to review the Office of Attorney General's work product. It is NOT a review of the work product of the many armchair quarterbacks or bloggers following the Corbett / Sandusky / PSU cases.
1950: Joe Paterno is hired by Penn State as an assistant football coach.
1966: Joe Paterno is named head coach of Penn State football team.
Coach Joe Paterno in the 1960s
1969: Jerry Sandusky is hired as assistant coach at Penn State. Sandusky and his wife begin adopting their first of six children.
1977: Sandusky forms the Second Mile charity. The foundation takes its name from Matthew 5:38-41: "Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles." (Catholic) "And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two." (King James version)
1981: Second Mile charity uses $64,000 Sandusky scraped together from donations and book sales to purchase a two-story house on twenty acres of land on Bernal Road, not far from Beaver Stadium. The plan, on the surface, at least, is to turn the house and grounds into a foster home.
1982: the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania licenses the Second Mile as a foster care agency. By October 1982, three foster kids -- all boys -- would be living in the house. Thus begins a long history of cooperation and misregulation between the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, its attorney general's office, and Sandusky's well-connected charity. For a detailed account read, "Kids as commodities: Aided by state child welfare officials, the Second Mile charity
protected Jerry Sandusky, not kids."
1986 to at least 2008: Sandusky victimized an unknown number of boys sent to him, often with the help of state and local children and youth agencies, and public welfare agencies that were looking out for Sandusky, and not the kids. For first-person accounts of the victims read, "In their own words: Pennsylvania child welfare agencies supply kids to Jerry Sandusky."
To read in-depth about Sandsuky's known victims click on the name below, or click on the link to the victinm's trial testimony:
1995: Dustin (aka Victim 7), "(Sandusky) took his clothes off. I took my clothes off and got into the shower." (Read his June 13, 2012 trial testimony here, starting on Page 85.)
1997: Brett (aka victim 4), "... we first went to the East Area Locker Room and got changed into shorts and a T-shirt and went and did the racquetball or whatever it was. I believe it was racquetball," Brett says. "(We) played that and then came back and he said, you know, 'Let's get a shower.'" Police eventually would talk to Brett in 2011 because of his mention in Sandusky's book Touched. (Read his June 11, 2012 trial testimony here, starting on Page 42.)
1998: Zach and Brendan (Zach is aka Victim 6), "I remember him saying, 'Okay, now it's time to shower, to rinse off,' and my immediate thought was, 'I'm not even sweating yet.'" His mom called the police on Sandusky in 1998. Complaint was dropped by local police, District Attorney Ray Gricar, and Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare. Zack wouldn't testify before a grand jury until June 17, 2011. Zach says he had a friend named Brendan, who also was in the Second Mile in the same time period. Sandusky also wrestled with Brendan, and had squeezed him in the shower. (Read Zach's June 14, 2012 trial testimony here, starting on Page 3.)
1998 and 1999: Ryan, "We were wrestling, and (Jerry) pinned me to the ground. He pulled my shorts down and started performing oral sex on me. I freaked out. I got nervous. I got scared." A school counselor referred Ryan to a Second Mile camp at Penn State's main campus, where he met Sandusky. He came forward to authorities after Sandusky was arrested at end of November 2011. (Read his June 13, 2012 trial testimony here, starting on Page 28.)
1999 through 2001: Jason (aka Victim 3), "I met Jerry Sandusky Casino Night at The Second Mile," Jason says. "One of the counselors brought me up to him, introduced him -- introduced me to him -- and we talked for a while. And then he asked me if I wanted to go to his football camp. I agreed." Sandusky began to take him to the PSU gym to "work out." "Then we would go back and get a shower." In bed, meanwhile, for the next several years, through 1999, 2000, and 2001, Sandusky would touch his penis. (Read his June 14, 2012 trial testimony here, starting on Page 82.)
1999 to 2001: Michal, "We sat down in the sauna, and it was really hot. I was sitting there with my towel on, and Jerry had his towel and then he parted the towel out. He sat down on his towel and he sat back and exposed himself to me." (Read his June 13, 2012 trial testimony here, starting on Page 165.)
2000: Unknown victim. In the fall of 2000 Ron Petrosky worked as a janitor at the Penn State main campus in State College. "I worked in the football building, (called the) Lasch Building. I would clean the showers at night.... I hooked the hose up. I started walking over towards the shower. I just about went in the shower, and I could see two sets of legs in there. To me it looked like there was one set of hairy legs and one set of skinny legs." First spoke to state troopers in March 2011. "Before I went to the grand jury? Well, the first time I spoke to the police is when it came out in the Centre Daily Times the story about the grad student which I didn't know at the time. I made the phone call to them because it sounded identical to the incident that happened when I was working there." (Read Petrosky's June 13, 2012 trial testimony here, starting on Page 222.)
2004 to 2009: Sebastian (aka Victim 9). Stayed "every weekend" at Sandusky's house from 2005 into 2009. "100 150 times ." "What was I going to do?" (Read his June 14, 2012 trial testimony here, starting on Page 202.)
1986 to 1996: Matt. Sandusky's adopted son, Matt, like the other victims, met Sandusky through the Second Mile. Matt told police that Sandusky began molesting him when he was eight years old, in 1986. In March 1996 Matt and his girlfriend -- who was also staying at the Sanduskys' house -- fled to a motel and tried to commit suicide by eating 80 to 100 aspirin tablets. "I know that I really wanted to die at that point in time," Matt says. After the attempted suicide, Matt's probation officer wrote, "The probation department has some serious concerns about the juvenile's safety and his current progress in placement with the Sandusky family." Nonetheless, state child welfare and probation officials recommended that Matt stay with the Sanduskys, and the county judge in the case agreed. By 1996 Matt says he came to believe that he was being spared from Sandusky's molestations because the coach was "transitioning" to other young victims.
October 3, 1995: Tom Corbett is appointed Pennsylvania Attorney General following the resignation of AG Ernie Preate, who is indicted on federal mail fraud and corruption charges for taking payoffs from organized crime and gambling interests, and tampering with the AG office's grand jury system. Interim AG Corbett fills out Preate's term until January 22, 1997. In late 1996, AG Corbett learns of an ongoing sex ring in York, Pennsylvania, involving Republican State Senator Dan Delp and dozens of other "VIPs." AG Corbett intentionally cripples or otherwise bungles that investigation, York city officials assert. The York sex ring continues unabated.
May and June 1998: Presentment reports Jerry Sandusky in PSU shower room lifting Zach, aka Victim 6, up to shower head. To read more about this incident, See no evil: Ray Gricar drops the ball
A brief timeline of this 1998 incident would be:
May 3, 1998: Sandusky showers with Zach, a Second Mile enrollee who will come to be called Victim 6.
May 4, 1998: Zach's mother reports the incident to psychologist Alycia Chambers, who encourages the mother to report the incident to police. Zach's mother reports the shower incident to Penn State Police Detective Ron Schreffler, who asks them to come to the station. While interviewing Zach, Schreffler learns that Sandusky has showered with another boy, Brendan. Schreffler reports the incident(s) to Centre County Children and Youth Services (CYS) caseworker John Miller, and also Centre County Assistant District Attorney Karen Arnold, who works for DA Ray Gricar. ADA Arnold directs Detective Schreffler to interview "everyone" -- including Zach's friend Brendan -- "as soon as possible." Later that night, Det. Schreffler and Center County Children and Youth Services (CYS) caseworker John Miller interview the second boy, Brendan.
ADA Arnold had the case for "two or three days," she says, before DA Gricar takes the case from her, saying he (Gricar) was going to personally handle it.
May 5, 1998: officials at the Centre County Children and Youth hold a meeting to decide "what to do." CYS officials advise Detective Schreffler that they'd decided to kick the Sandusky matter upstairs, to their overseers in the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare in Harrisburg. Even so, the state DPW will inexplicably kick the matter back down to the county Children and Youth agency. No one seems in charge.
Also on May 5, 1998: Penn State athletic director Tim Curley writes an email to the school's vice president for finance, Gary Schultz:
"I have touched base with the coach. Keep us posted. Thanks."
On May 6, 1998: Schultz replies to Curley by email:
"Will do. Since we talked tonight I've learned that the Public Welfare people will interview the individual Thursday."
The subject line of this email reads, "Re: Joe Paterno."
May 8, 1998: state DPW officials ask Centre County CYS to enlist counselor John Seasock to interview Zach. After speaking with Zach, CYS's Seasock issues a report exonerating Sandusky.
May 13, 1998: Tom Harmon, the director of Penn State Police Services, emails Schultz:
"The psychologist from DPW spoke with the child. They have not spoken to him. It is still my understanding that they intend to do this. I have also been advised that they want to do this quickly."
By June 1, 1998: DA Ray Gricar declines to prosecute the case.
On June 1, 1998: perhaps even after DA Gricar decided to close the case, Schreffler and DPW's Jerry Lauro interviewed Jerry Sandusky. Schreffler advised Sandusky to no longer shower with boys.
Schreffler helped produce the 100-plus-page report about the 1998 Sandusky incident that was referred to DA Gricar. That report becomes one of the more sought after MacGuffins in a media paper chase for Sandusky documents. A university police "incident report" dated May 4, 1998 can be read here. (Read Schreffler's June 14, 2012 trial testimony here, starting on Page 50.)
May 1999: Coach Joe Paterno tells Sandusky that Sandusky will not be named Paterno's replacement as head PSU football coach, and Sandusky retires with emeritus status. Sandusky still has access to Penn State facilities. The grand jury presentment states: "Victim 4 remembers Sandusky being emotionally upset after having a meeting with Joe Paterno in which Paterno told Sandusky he would not be the next head coach at Penn State and which preceded Sandusky's retirement. Sandusky told Victim 4 not to tell anyone about the (Paterno) meeting. That meeting occurred in May, 1999."
Fall 2000: Presentment states: "In the fall of 2000, a janitor named James 'Jim' Calhoun ('Jim') observed Sandusky in the showers of the Lasch Building with a young boy pinned up against the wall, performing oral sex on the boy. He immediately made known to other janitorial staff what he had just witnessed."
Paterno talks things over with Mike McQueary
March 1, 2002 (or is it February 2001?): Graduate assistant Mike McQueary says he observes Sandusky apparently having anal sex with a young boy in the Lasch Building shower room, according to the presentment which will eventually be released. That night McQueary talks with his father and discusses what to do. The next day, McCreary meets with Coach Joe Paterno and tells Paterno explicitly what he had observed. Paterno tells McQueary, "‘Well, I'm sorry you had to see that. It's terrible.' And he said, ‘I need to think and tell some people about what you saw and I'll let you know what — what we'll do next.'" (December 16, 2011 preliminary hearing transcript page 26.) Paterno reports the incident to his boss, PSU Director of Athletics, Tim Curley, the following Monday. The grand jury presentment reads (page 8): "Schultz testified that he was called to a meeting with Joe Paterno and Tim Curley, in which Paterno reported ‘disturbing' and ‘inappropriate' conduct in the shower by Sandusky upon a young boy, as reported to him by a student or graduate student."
The presentment further reads (page 7): "Approximately one and a half weeks later, the graduate assistant was called to a meeting with Penn State Athletic Director Curley and Senior Vice President for Finance and Business Gary Schultz. The graduate assistant reported to Curley and Schultz that he had witnessed what he believed to be Sandusky having anal sex with a boy in the Lasch Building showers. Curley and Schultz assured the graduate assistant that they would look into it and determine what further action they would take. Paterno was not present for this meeting."
In May 2012, the AG's office would file court papers stating these incidents allegedly occured not in March 2002, but in February 2001, some 13 months before the grand jury originally reported.
Late March 2002: Curley contacts McQueary to say that Sandusky no longer has keys to the PSU locker room, and that the incident has been reported to Second Mile charity. Curley and Schultz meet with PSU President Graham Spanier, according to the grand jury presentment, "to report an incident with Jerry Sandusky that made a member of Curley's staff ‘uncomfortable.'"
The presentment reads (page 7): "The graduate assistant heard back from Curley a couple of weeks later. He was told that Sandusky's keys to the locker room were taken away and that the incident had been reported to The Second Mile. The graduate assistant was never questioned by University Police. … Curley testified that he informed Dr. Jack Raykovitz, Executive Director of the Second Mile of the conduct reported to him and met with Sandusky to advise Sandusky that he was prohibited from bringing youth onto the Penn State campus from that point forward."
The presentment further relates (page 9) that: "Schultz testified that the 1998 incident was reviewed by the University Police and 'the child protection agency' with the blessing of then-University counsel Wendell Courtney. Courtney was then and remains counsel for The Second Mile."
January 18, 2005: Tom Corbett is sworn in as Pennsylvania's 46th Attorney General, having won election the previous November.
DA Ray Gricar with AG Tom Corbett at March 31, 2005 drug bust press conference
March 31, 2005: AG Corbett holds a press conference with Centre County DA Ray Gricar to announce the prosecution of Taji "Verbal" Lee in the "largest heroin operation that we have ever seen in Centre County, feeding a drug trade that stretched throughout the region and allegedly resulted in at least one deadly overdose," AG Corbett says. Senior Deputy Attorney General Michael T. Madeira, who works in AG Corbett's Drug Strike Force Section, will prosecute this drug case, AG Corbett announces. The State College newspaper reports that, "Gricar pointed out that heroin and cocaine were problems that have been increasing throughout Pennsylvania."
April 15, 2005: Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar vanishes.
April 20, 2005 : Days after DA Gricar's disappearance, a former Brigham Young University offensive lineman makes a splash in the national press by saying there is widespread steroid use in college athletics, including at BYU.
April 2005: In a press conference in Bellefonte, PA, Bellefonte Police Chief Duane Dixon, when asked about a possible connection between DA Gricar's disappearance and drug cases, says, "They're looking into that." Referring to decisions already made in Attorney General Corbett's office, Dixon says, "they don't think" drug cases had anything to do with DA Gricar's strange disappearance. Chief Dixon points out that the recent "Verbal" Lee heroin case, for example, was not actually prosecuted by DA Gricar, but by Senior Deputy Attorney General Michael Madeira. The understaffed and largely clueless Bellefonte police department will keep jurisdiction in Gricar's missing person case for the next 9 years, until the PA state police take over in February 2014.
Former Corbett drug prosecutor and DA Gricar replacement Michael Madeira
January 2006: Tom Corbett's drug prosecutor, former Deputy Attorney General Michael Madeira, is sworn in as the new district attorney of Centre County, replacing missing DA Ray Gricar. There is still no serious investigation of Ray Gricar's disappearance. Instead, unsubstantiated reports in the press of Gricar sightings are treated as reasons not to suspect foul play.
November 20 2008: Aaron Fisher informs Lock Haven's Central Mountain High School principal Karen Probst and a guidance counselor that he had been sexually abused by Sandusky. Aaron's mother, Dawn Daniels, recounts in their book, Silent No More, that she asked Principal Probst what they were going to do. The school principal told Aaron's mother the man in question was Jerry Sandusky, that he spent lots of time with lots of kids, and that Dawn needed to think about "the repercussions."
Extremely upset, Dawn and Aaron left the school and drove directly to Children and Youth Services in Lock Haven, Clinton County. Aaron was interviewed by Mike Gillum, the staff psychologist who would end up co-writing Silent No More. The book explains that Gillum's first interview with Aaron Fisher occurred sometime in November 2008, before Thanksgiving, almost three years before Sandusky would be arrested in November 2011.
Caseworker Jessica Dershem, Gillum's co-worker at Clinton County Children and Youth, would testify at Sandusky's 2012 trial that she first spoke with Aaron on November 20, 2008. (See page 130 of June 12, 2012 trial transcript.)
Dershem would also testify that she talked to someone at the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare about the "rights letter" usually sent within 24 hours of receiving a complaint. "We were told that we should hold off on sending it." (See transcript page 131.)
As well as filling in many points on the timeline, Gillum's account in Silent No More sheds light on the revolving door of law enforcement personnel assigned to the stalled case by the state attorney general's office. It turns out, for example, there wasn't just one state trooper assigned to the case, as would often be subsequently misreported. There were actually, over the next three years, four state troopers assigned to the case, one after another, in all-but serial fashion. Making matters worse for victim Aaron Fisher, as each trooper was first assigned and then pulled from the case, the traumatized boy had to start from scratch with the telling and retelling of his painful story.
Gillum writes that he and CYS had a meeting with the Pennsylvania State Police a few days after his first meeting with Aaron. Gillum filed his initial report to the state police because the initial abuse happened in Sandusky's home, away from the jurisdiction of the local Lock Haven police.
But once Gillum filed his report, before Thanksgiving, the state police responded slowly to talk with Aaron. An interview was scheduled with Aaron some weeks later, on December 12, 2008.
Insider account: Silent No More. Read a thorough review of the book here.
December 12, 2008: The moment the State Police interviewers showed up, Gillum writes he noticed something unusual. Instead of the usual single state trooper who would normally come to the agency, there were two troopers he'd never dealt with before. Gillum's CYS office usually worked with a regularly assigned female trooper named Patterson, he writes, who was good with kids. But now, instead of Patterson, here was Trooper Joe Cavanaugh from the Lamar Barracks and Trooper Akers from the Montoursville Barracks. They were big, middle-aged guys who looked like they'd come out of the military. Gillum writes he wondered why friendly Trooper Patterson hadn't been assigned to the case, as she normally would have been.Out of the gate, at this early date, Gillum writes he suspected the complaint was getting some sort of special treatment.
Also on December 12, 2008: Jessica Dershem, a caseworker with Clinton County Children and Youth, testifies at Sandusky's June 2012 trial that Trooper Joe Cavanough tells her and Gillum on December 12, 2008, that "he has enough evidence" at this early date to charge Sandusky with indecent assault. (See page 160 of June 12, 2012 trial transcript.)
January 2009: Psychologist Gillum writes that he didn't hear anything back from the state police until sometime in January 2009. The chain of command, he writes, "was more like a barbed wire fence."
"If this had been any other child, abused by any other perpetrator under the same or similar conditions, the time from intake at CYS to arrest of the sex offender would typically be within two or three weeks," he writes. Jerry Sandusky wouldn't even be called for an interview until January 15, 2009.
Sandusky, meanwhile, "lawyered up and denied everything, seeming almost sorry for Aaron and this fantasy he had evidentially created," Gillum recounts. "Who was calling the shots?" Gillum writes he wonders.
March 12, 2009: Gillum recounts he spent "quite a bit of time" with Aaron Fisher after the first unfriendly and tardy interview with PSP Troopers Cavanaugh and Akers. Aaron was a mess, and there was much psychological damage to undo.
Even so, suddenly Gillum is informed, without explanation, a Trooper Lear will now be handling the case, and that Troopers Cavanaugh and Akers have been mysterious removed from the already glacial "investigation."
On March 12, 2009, the very same day he first had contact with the newly assigned Trooper Lear, Gillum writes, CYS was also informed that the state attorney general's office would be supervising and handling the case.
It turns out that the district attorney of Centre County, Michael Madeira, has just recused himself from the case, citing a conflict of interest involving one of Madeira's family members and Sandusky. Madeira refers a pedophile complaint or complaints involving Sandusky to his former boss, Pennsylvania AG Corbett.
It's worth noting that the case could have at this point been referred to the Clinton County district attorney. Instead, for reasons unknown, Tom Corbett's AG's office intervenes, and takes slow charge of the case."My attorney general contact was Jonelle Eshbach," Gillum writes. "She introduced herself as senior deputy attorney general, just a step down from the state attorney general, Tom Corbett, who at the time was in the midst of campaigning for governor of Pennsylvania. Jonelle made it clear that neither DA, in Clinton or Centre County, would be handling the case and this would be a state matter. When I asked why the case had been bumped up to the attorney general's office, she stated that she couldn't get into it, but there were a number of reasons why."
Corbett associates say Corbett, meanwhile, makes it clear to his staff that he does not want to prosecute the Sandusky case, and effectively places the Sandusky investigation in limbo.
March 19, 2009: Trooper Lear re-interviews Aaron on March 19, 2009: four months after the initial complaint was filed. Aaron, having to tell his story from scratch, again has a very difficult ordeal.A significant amount of time having passed from the first interview, Aaron keeps asking Gillum when Sandusky will be arrested and put in jail. Little do they know the case has been sandbagged by AG Corbett, who is busy planning his announcement that he will run for governor.
June 8, 2009, some seven months after Aaron's complaint against Sandusky was first filed, Gillum get another phone call from Senior Deputy AG Jonelle Eshbach. She says Trooper Lear is now off the case, and yet another new state trooper had been assigned. Asked why, Eshbach won't explain, and only says a Trooper Scott Rossman will be contacting them for subsequent interviews.
So Aaron will have to "take it from the top all over again" with a new state trooper.
In any other case within his experience, Gillum writes, an arrest by this time would already have been made, and there might even have been a trial. Something would have been done: an arrest, jail, probation or bail. This case for some reason "was super-slow motion," Gillum writes.
Aaron's interview with the fourth trooper, Scott Rossman, comes on June 8, 2009, Gillum reports.
Trooper Rossman, for his part, tells Gillum that he wasn't "at liberty" to say why all the disruptive changes have been made in the case, only that he's been sent in by the "attorney general's office."
Gillum will complain that Rossman, like the other troopers, is not a trained sexual abuse officer accustomed to dealing with sexually abused kids.
At one point, Gillum complains, Rossman asks Aaron, "Did he ever try to put his dick in your butt? I mean his penis in your anus?"
June 16, 2009, victim Aaron Fisher is dragged before his first statewide investigative grand jury, some seven months after he first reported a crime.
Aaron writes in Silent No More that there were about 30 grand jurors in the courtroom. The faces of the jurors make Aaron extremely anxious. When asked about "the sexual stuff" he starts to cry. He feels betrayed by Deputy AG Eshbach. She hadn't prepared him for the questions she asks, including questions about oral sex. The boy doesn't believe that anyone in the grand jury room is on his side.
A few days after this first disastrous grand jury incident, Gillum writes, Trooper Rossman asks to perform a wiretap with Aaron. The plan is to put a tap on Aaron's phone, and have the boy call Sandusky to see if the coach admits to his crimes.
Gillum writes that he tells Rossman this is a bad idea since Aaron is far too fragile to do this sort of heavy-duty police work.Nevertheless, behind his back, Rossman gains permission for a bungled wiretap attempt from Aaron's mom. (Gillum writes that he was "stunned" that law enforcement and the AG's office ignored his professional advice.)
June 22, 2009: Psychologist Gillum's account makes clear that narcotics officer Anthony Sassano first appears on the case on June 22, 2009.
On the day of the wiretapping, June 22, 2009, Gillum writes, he just so happened to phone Aaron's mom. Dawn tells Gillum that she can't talk, as Trooper Rossman and an agent from the attorney general's office, Anthony "Tony" Sassano, are in her home with a wiretap team to perform the ill-advised wiretap.
Sassano, Rossman, and their higher-ups in the AG's office, however, predictably bungle the wiretap attempt.
With the wiretap equipment hooked up, Aaron calls Sandusky and asked the coach to "apologize."
"Well, we can't talk about that stuff now," Gillum reports Sandusky tells the anguished boy and the recording equipment.
The bungled call lasted no more than a minute, Gillum writes."Now eight grueling months without justice had gone by since I first met Aaron; Sandusky was still a free man," Gillum summarizes. "Something wasn't right. As a matter of fact, something was terribly wrong."
What Aaron Fisher and Gillum do not know (and what the book does not explain) is that AG Tom Corbett is misusing the limited resources of the AG's office in his bid to run for governor.
Corbett not only fails to assign Aaron's case to the tested Child Predator Unit, he also ties up hundreds of agents in the criminal investigations bureau -- and the grand jurors -- in his political "Bonusgate" prosecutions, aimed at going after Corbett's Democratic political enemies.
How did narcotics officer Sassano come to be assigned to the case?
Narcotics Agent Sassano's then-supervisor, Randy Feathers, tells the Altoona Mirror in June 2012, "During the 'Bonusgate' investigation, we had a shortage of investigators in Harrisburg."
Yet, contradicting himself in a November 1, 2012 Harrisburg Patriot-News interview, Feathers would say, "I was asked weekly if I had enough personnel.... I never asked for help until 2011 when we had many more subpoenas and more evidence. Then I got eight more troopers and four more agents."
Sassano himself won't shed much light on his mysterious role in the case when he testifies at Sandusky's trial on June 14, 2012. Parts of Sassano's court testimony appear to be at odds with Gillum's account in Silent No More.
"Did there come a time in your employment with the Office of Attorney General that you were assigned to this matter?" Sassano is asked on the witness stand.
"Yes," Sassano answers.
"Do you remember exactly -- do you remember approximately when that was?"
Sassano answers, "April, May of 2009, somewhere in that area. I think May."
(Gillum writes that Sassano didn't show up on Aaron's case until the day of the wiretap on June 22, 2009.)
Sassano, on the witness stand, then is asked, "After it was transferred to your office, did there come a time when it was placed in the grand jury? ...Do you remember approximately when that was?"
Sassano replies, "... I don't think we testified until June of 2009."
Sassano's memory appears revisionist, even under oath. Author Gillum makes no mention of Sassano's presence at the June 16, 2009 grand jury. In fact, Gillum writes he wasn't even aware of Sassano's existence until a week later, on June 22.
Sassano's bad memory notwithstanding, what exactly did the malapropos narcotics agent do in the case for the next year and a half? Not much.
At Sandusky's 2012 trial, Agent Sassano is asked, "Now, can you tell us, after it went into the grand jury, whether or not a lead or a discovery led you and other investigators to Mr. McQueary?"
"Yes, there was something that broke that led us to Mr. McQueary," Sassano testifies. "An anonymous e-mail was sent to Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller. She forwarded that to the trooper I was working with at the time, Scott Rossman, and he forwarded it to me. And essentially that e-mail indicated from an anonymous individual that -- reference to the Sandusky investigation -- we needed to speak to Mike McQueary, that he had some information."
"And did that subsequently occur?"
"It did," Sassano testifies.
But Sassano doesn't bother to mention that he and Trooper Rossman didn't interview McQueary until November 2010, a year and a half after he was supposedly hard on the case, and several weeks after his boss, Attorney General Corbett, was elected governor.
(McQueary, on the stand, would testify that he was first interviewed by Sassano and Rossman on November 22 and 23, 2010.)
September 14, 2009: AG Tom Corbett formally announces that he is running for governor of Pennsylvania. The Harrisburg Patriot-News -driven "Bonusgate" scandal becomes the core of Corbett's political campaign for governor. The Patriot portrays AG Corbett as a corruption-fighting crime buster.
There are only two statewide grand juries at any time, each with 18-month terms. Grand jurors only meet part time, a few hours each week. In an effort to get Tom Corbett elected governor, the grand jury time is by now almost totally saturated by "Bonusgate" matters.
November 2009: Aaron Fisher is called to his second grand jury appearance. Gillum writes that he is beyond frustrated and smells a rat.
"I was positive that this second grand jury was a purely political move. How could they possibly think they would get ideal testimony out of a victimized child?" he asks.
While testifying before the grand jury in November, Aaron "literally collapsed," Gillum writes.
After the second grand jury, Gillum writes, Deputy AG Eshbach assures them an arrest "was imminent."
December 10, 2009: Acquittal in "Bonusgate" trial of former state Rep. Sean Ramaley. Corbett fears for his election prospects. AG Corbett orders all the agents in the Bureau of Criminal Investigation to drop whatever they are doing to perform background checks on approximately 350 potential jurors in the "Bonusgate" jury pool. Corbett says he suspects jury tampering by his political opponents. The Sandusky investigation continues to languish.
February 2, 2010: Despite having been assured by Deputy AG Eshbach that an arrest "was imminent" following the November 2009 grand jury, several months pass. On February 2, 2010, Gillum notes, he has a conversation with Eshbach about how the announcement of Sandusky's promised "imminent" arrest should be made to the media.
Also in February 2010, the AG's office finally gets around to subpoenaing the Second Mile, though by now important documents will be missing.
Still, Gillum recounts, "Jonelle promised that there would be an arrest in the middle of the third week of March. At that point, I was really pinning her down because this had gone on long enough. She said there would absolutely be an arrest unless one of her supervisors stopped the process.
"I asked who that supervisor would be.
"You know who my supervisor is," Gillum writes Eshbach told him. "It's Tom Corbett."
"She was right: I did know: I knew that he was the same Tom Corbett who was running for governor."
March 2010: Gillum writes that Eshbach telephoned again in the last week of March 2010 to say "the arrest was further delayed. She sounded uneasy as she explained that there was no reason other than that her presentment summarizing the evidence from the grand jury still had to be approved by her boss. There it is again: Tom Corbett, the guy at the highest level, running for governor."
False promises were "piling up," Gillum recounts. "I couldn't help but feel that (Eshbach) was putting me off, that she was talking out of both sides of her mouth. She had a situation on her hands, hands that were very much tied, and my gut said that Corbett was ultimately the one holding this up."
August 2010: Gillum repeatedly calls Deputy AG Eshbach, who still isn't returning his calls. Finally Eshbach calls back to say, again, that her "hands were tied."
Gillum tells Deputy AG Eshbach that they'd given up on the Pennsylvania attorney general's office. They would now contact the FBI, he informs her. Sandusky had transported Aaron across state lines to Maryland, which should give the feds jurisdiction, Gillum reasoned.Eshbach asks Gillum to give her twenty-four hours to get back to him. But she calls back the next day to say nothing had changed: "They had no arrest date. It was still up to Corbett." The governor's election is two months away.
Dawn, Aaron's Mom, thereafter picks up the phone and angrily reports the mess to the FBI office in Philadelphia. She tells a FBI agent that Attorney General Tom Corbett is dragging his feet with the child abuse case because he was running for governor, Gillum writes.
In other words, Tom Corbett was obstructing justice for personal political gain.
But the FBI refuses to do anything. The agent tells Dawn that the bureau can't get involved while the state attorney general sandbags the case.
AG Corbett: Politicking when he should be prosecuting, then talking like a prosecutor when he's governor...
November 2, 2010: AG Tom Corbett is elected governor of Pennsylvania.
November 2010: First Deputy Attorney General William Ryan, a longtime career prosecutor in the AG's office, is mentioned in the state press as a logical contender for appointment as Corbett's replacement as attorney general.
Ryan however soon learns that he will be passed over by Corbett for the honor. Ryan is increasingly the de facto AG after the November election while Corbett is absorbed by the transition. Corbett associates say Ryan is "pissed off," and tells AG office staff that he will make no major changes or decisions until the permanent AG is sworn in sometime in 2011.
Also in November 2010: "I hardly thought it was a coincidence that after Election Day, November 2, 2010, when Tom Corbett won his campaign for governor of Pennsylvania, we suddenly heard that witnesses were coming forward," Gillum reports.
November 22 and 23, 2010: Mike McQueary, on the witness stand at Sandusky's 2012 trial, testifies he was first interviewed by narcotics Agent Sassano and PSP Trooper Rossman on November 22 and 23, 2010.
Also in November 2010: AG's office investigators researching the 1998 and 2002 pedophile complaints against Sandusky recognize that the one person who has crucial information about the Sandusky Centre County pedophile investigation(s) — former DA Ray Gricar — has been missing for more than five years. This raises the question: What happened to Ray Gricar?
December 2010: Penn State assistant football coach Mike McQueary is finally put in front of the Thirtieth Statewide Grand Jury. This is what should have happened in March 2009, Corbett associates say. The grand jury presentment states, "The graduate assistant (McQueary) was never questioned by University Police and no other entity conducted an investigation until he testified in Grand Jury in December, 2010."
January 12, 2011: Penn State officials Curley and Shultz are called to the grand jury. Coach Joe Paterno also testifies before the grand jury in January 2011. Curley and Shultz tell the grand jury that they were never told by McQueary of any sexual contact. The grand jury will charge Curley and Schultz with perjury.
Magic Moment prosecutor: 'Pissed off' that he's been passed over for AG, Acting Attorney General William Ryan says he won't make any major decisions ...
January 18, 2011: Tom Corbett is sworn in as governor of Pennsylvania. At the moment of Corbett's inauguration, per the Commonwealth Attorneys Act, First Deputy AG William Ryan automatically becomes Acting AG. This is a "Magic Moment." Acting AG Ryan and the other professional staff are not beholden to politics or politicians, as they have been for some years.
Late January 2011: The Thirtieth Statewide Grand Jury's term expires.
Late January 2011: Seven additional state police and AG office agents are assigned to the Sandusky case.
February 8, 2011: Gov. Corbett officially nominates Linda Kelly to succeed him as attorney general. The state senate won't confirm Kelly until May 23, 2011. Until she is confirmed, William Ryan remains Acting AG.
February 2011: Acting AG William Ryan issues and order that all emails in the Attorney General's office henceforth will be retained for only 6 months before they are deleted. Emails in the Attorney General's office previously had been retained for 5 years. Six months in the past of this February 2011 order is roughly the August / September 2010 time frame when psychologist Mike Gillum informs Deputy AG Eshbach that he and Aaron Fisher's mother plan to contact the FBI about the stalled case, through Corbett's November election as governor.
February 2011: New Thirty-Third Statewide Grand Jury is convened.
February 2011: Karen Arnold, the former assistant district attorney who originally handled the Sandusky case in 1998 for DA Ray Gricar, is asked to testify before the Thirty-Third Statewide Grand Jury. It is a totally new grand jury that uses information from the former grand jury(s).
March 10, 2011: Arnold testifies before the grand jury. Arnold will later say there are aspects of the Sandusky case ignored by the grand jury.
April 11, 2011: the AG's office calls Aaron Fisher to yet another grand jury.
"Think about it," Gillum writes. "Aaron first appeared in my office in November 2008. Not only was there another grand jury, now the jurors were different. The terms of the last thirty jurors expired and this was a brand-new group of people who wanted to hear testimony. Aaron had to take it from the top again."
"When Aaron heard that he had to testify in front of an entirely new grand jury, he hit a real low... He felt betrayed, completely let down, all but abandoned."
At the April 11, 2010 grand jury appearance in Harrisburg's Strawberry Square, Aaron Fisher fears being confronted by a mob of waiting reporters.They suspect the media knows that Aaron has been called to testify at the supposedly secret proceeding. The prosecutors, the cops, or both, obviously are leaking to the press.
"There was a definite leak somewhere," Gillum writes.
Also in April 2011: Following the April 2011 grand jury appearance, and with Corbett safely in the governor's mansion, Gillum writes that Deputy AG Eshbach informed him there would finally be a task-force of six attorney general office agents as well as state police officers dedicated to the case.
"I wanted to ask her why Corbett had dragged his feet but I knew the obvious answer," Gillum writes. "Now that Corbett was governor and there was no risk antagonizing anyone who might have interfered with his election, there was a whole new mindset in the attorney general's office."Gillum adds, "suffice it to say that there was a huge credibility gap between me and Jonelle at that point. I'd believe an arrest when it happened."
May 23, 2011: AG nominee Linda Kelly is confirmed by the state senate and only now becomes Pennsylvania attorney general, replacing Acting AG Ryan.
August 19, 2011: Gov. Tom Corbett appoints former Acting AG William Ryan as chairman of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.
Also in August 2011: Gillum demands a meeting with Corbett's appointed replacement, interim AG Linda Kelly. Deputy AG Eshbach counters that that isn't possible, and instead arranges a meeting in Strawberry Square with Aaron, his mom, Gillum, and AG office prosecutor Frank Fina.
Aaron Fisher, his mother and Gillum are picked up in a van with blackened windows and driven to "a secret building" inside AG headquarters in Harrisburg's Strawberry Square, called by staff The Crystal Palace, to meet Fina in his office.
Outside, they couldn't help noticing, in Strawberry Square, the place is overrun by reporters who'd obviously been tipped off by someone connected with the AG's office.
"This time the media presence outside was obvious," Gillum writes. "So much for secrets. Reporters were hanging around ready to pounce."
The meeting with Fina lasts three hours. Also attending was Eshbach, and narcotics Agent Sassano.
But, "It was the same old song and dance. ...I demanded an arrest date. Fina was getting steamed, too."
Gillum, exasperated, threatens to go to the media. Problem was, since he'd been subpoenaed to appear before the first grand jury with Aaron two years earlier, Gillum fears he'd be arrested for breaking grand jury secrecy rules, and lose his license to practice. The irony then would be that he'd be arrested by the AG's office, and not Sandusky.
Gillum describes what happens next in the meeting with Eshbach, Fina and narcotics Agent Sassano:
"Dawn said that she could go to the media, and then I said that they were all just covering their butts again at Aaron's expense. The kid is going to end up dying from all this, so what's the point of your task force and investigation?
"That was when Aaron stood up. Until that moment, he was just sitting there, seemingly taking it all in. Now he looked them all in the eye and said, 'I'm out.'
"They sang like a chorus: 'What do you mean?'
"'That's it,' Aaron said. 'I'm not going to be your witness anymore.'"
"In that moment, Aaron went from frightened little boy to a young man with incredible courage."Fina was "pissed off," Gillum recounts, but said that Sandusky would be arrested by "the end of the year."
November 2011: Grand jury presentment is released and Jerry Sandusky is charged with pedophile crimes.
November 2011 onward: PSU Coach Joe Paterno, and university president Graham Spanier both are fired at Gov. Tom Corbett's behest. A student riot ensues in State College. A new head football coach will be hired despite protests by Penn State alumni and players. There is no indication that anyone from the existing PSU football staff will be retained.
Posted 1-11-12, updated 1-19-14
Want to know more? Read these Yardbird bestsellers about Pennsylvania attorneys general:
The Sins of Our Fathers: Moments before shooting himself to death at a news comference, Pennsylvania Treasurer R. Budd Dwyer implicated the PA attorney general in a deadly bribery conspiracy. Two young writers investigate, and find dark secrets about their hometown. Read more >
Or buy The Sins of Our Fathers paperback edition now!
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The Midnight Ride of Jonathan Luna: A year and a half before the disappearance of Pennsylvania DA Ray Gricar, Baltimore federal drug prosecutor Jonathan Luna mysteriously vanished from his office in downtown Baltimore, turning up dead in a stream in Lancaster, PA, stabbed dozens of times... Is it just us, or does it seem like lots of prosecutors are going missing in Pennsylvania? Read more >
We All Fall Down A Chronicle of an Impeachment Foretold: "In We All Fall Down, writer William Keisling tells the story of the impeachment of Pennsylvania state Supreme Court Justice Rolf Larsen, a once-popular Pittsburgh jurist. Larsen is prosecuted by corrupt Pennsylvania Attorney General Ernie Preate, shortly before AG Preate's own conviction on federal mail fraud and corruption charges. Keisling's account suggests that Larsen's impeachment was a blemish on democracy that should concern all Americans. Keisling describes the breakdown of nearly every democratic institution in the state that cradled American democracy."
Cloth cover, Smyth bound, 336 pages.
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