Pennsylvania Democratic leaders sought a U.S. Justice Department review of the state’s handling of child sex-abuse accusations against Jerry Sandusky, a former Pennsylvania State University football coach.
Representatives Frank Dermody of Oakmont, the Democratic leader in the House, and Mike Hanna of Lock Haven, a party floor leader known as the whip, asked for the appointment of a special counsel to examine how the Sandusky investigation was conducted and whether he violated any federal laws, in a letter dated yesterday and addressed to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
The probe of the former coach, who was sentenced Oct. 10, began under Tom Corbett, the state’s Republican attorney general at the time. Now governor, Corbett was then in the middle of his successful campaign for the state’s top job. The Democrats questioned why it took 33 months to charge Sandusky when the allegations dated to 1988 and spanned 15 years.
“This case is crying out for an independent eye,” Dermody and Hanna said in the letter. “As long as there is a cloud of suspicion hanging over this tragedy, the people of Pennsylvania will never be able to bring this dark chapter of our history to a close.”
Kevin Harley, a spokesman for Corbett, called the move “politics at its most cynical.”
“This is another attempt by House Democrats to take political advantage of the victims of Jerry Sandusky,” Harley said yesterday.
Responding to previous criticism, Corbett has said it takes time to build a case. Republicans, who control the state House of Representatives, earlier this week blocked a bid by Democrats for a floor debate on requesting a federal review.
Sandusky, 68, was convicted in June on 45 criminal counts tied to abusing boys and this month was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison. He left the Penn State football team in 1999.