Sandusky wants subpoena power to look into 2011 case leaks

AP News
|
Posted: Sep 30, 2015 3:14 PM

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Jerry Sandusky wants a judge to let him explore contacts between state prosecutors and a judge who oversaw the grand jury that recommended he be charged with child molestation, a request his lawyer said was justified by "extraordinary circumstances."

The former Penn State assistant football coach filed a 25-page court document Tuesday that said he also wants to look into how information about the grand jury investigation was published eight months before he was arrested in 2011.

The new filing argued that leaks in the Sandusky investigation were "part of the systemic breakdown of the grand jury process ... over time by the attorney general's office and supervising judges."

Sandusky attorney Al Lindsay asked to be given emails and other records of communications between state prosecutors and judges and the ability to get sworn statements from anyone with access to the grand jury proceedings. Lindsay said Sandusky, now in state prison, is expected to attend a post-conviction appeal hearing on those and other post-trial issues on Oct. 29 in Bellefonte.

A spokesman for the attorney general's office said prosecutors were reviewing the filing and planned to respond, but said there is no evidence leaks came from anyone associated with the prosecutors' office.

The Patriot-News of Harrisburg first reported in a March 2011 story by Sara Ganim that a grand jury was looking into allegations against Sandusky, a story that helped the paper win a Pulitzer Prize. Ganim, now a CNN correspondent, is among those Sandusky wants to subpoena.

Lindsay told Judge John Cleland he wants more information about the February 2013 appointment by Judge Barry Feudale, who oversaw the Sandusky grand jury, of a special prosecutor to look into grand jury secrecy violations.

Lindsay said his office called the special prosecutor, lawyer James Reeder, who told him "in no uncertain terms that he would not even speak with anyone regarding his investigation without a court order."

The order from Feudale that appointed Reeder set his pay at $72 an hour and gave him six months to produce a report. It's unclear what work, if any, was performed by Reeder, who formerly worked at the attorney general's office. Reeder, now a prosecutor with the Lancaster County district attorney's office, did not return a phone message Wednesday.

Recent news accounts of inappropriate emails between prosecutors and judges in Pennsylvania have raised the possibility that they also engaged in improper discussions about Sandusky's case, Lindsay wrote.

"This would of course result in a 'tainting' of the grand jury investigation and would have likely had significance in the grand jury presentment accusing the defendant of various criminal acts and subsequent prosecution," Lindsay wrote.

Attorney general's office spokesman Chuck Ardo said it's not unusual for prosecutors and a grand jury supervisory judge to be in contact with each other.

"We are not aware of any inappropriate communications between this office and Judge Feudale," Ardo said.

Participation in pornographic, explicit and otherwise objectionable emails that circulated at the attorney general's office led a state Supreme Court justice, Seamus McCaffery, to abruptly retire last year after his colleagues suspended him.

Attorney General Kathleen Kane fired or disciplined dozens of employees over the emails, and several former employees of the attorney general's office lost their jobs after their participation in the exchanges became public.

Kane, who was elected a year after Sandusky was charged, is herself currently awaiting trial on charges she leaked material from an unrelated grand jury investigation to a reporter last year and then lied to cover it up, charges she has vigorously disputed.

Sandusky, who served for decades as defensive coach of Penn State's powerhouse football program, was convicted in 2012 of 45 counts of child sexual abuse and was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in state prison.