A $3 million state grant earmarked for The Second Mile Foundation has been put on hold by the state legislature as the fallout from the investigation into alleged sex abuse by former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky continues. Sandusky is the founder of Second Mile and has been accused of sexually abusing boys who were involved in the foundation’s programs at Penn State.
The grant was approved by former Governor Ed Rendell and then reaffirmed by Corbett after taking office. Gov. Corbett said that he knew Sandusky was gone from the organization when he approved the grant. He defended the decision by saying that he didn’t want to risk compromising the 2-year investigation.
At the first press conference where he answered questions about the Sandusky case, Corbett warned reporters that he was under disciplinary rules as a lawyer and as a person involved in the case. “I am aware of many of the details of the investigation that I cannot go into. Do not bother to ask me, because you will get no comment,” said Corbett.
Lawrence Fox, a legal ethics lecturer at Yale Law School, said that respecting grand jury secrecy means that Corbett can’t hint at what he’d like to say. “You can’t, you know, get around it by saying something like, ‘I wish I could share with you all the really good stuff that’s in the grand jury,’ because now he’s breaching grand jury secrecy,” said Fox.
Geoffrey Hazard is a former professor of legal ethics at the University of Pennsylvania and now teaches law at the University of California in San Francisco. He believes that the governor had the ability to make some statements because the case involves the state and Corbett is the commonwealth’s top public official.
“On the other hand, he shouldn’t delve into details of what’s involved. The details are still forthcoming, investigations are going on. So if he makes sort of general observations, I think that’s entirely appropriate,” said Hazard.
Corbett also signed off on the state’s funding of Penn State between taking office and the announcement of the grand jury investigation. Since the announcement, Penn State President Graham Spanier has been fired.
Corbett told reporters last week that he had been disappointed for the two years that the investigation was going on, but he would not elaborate. “There is a legal issue; there is a moral issue. I am personally disappointed in the lack of action,” said Corbett. “Again, I can’t go into that right now. I would love to. I hope you all know I would love to, but I can’t.”