by Geoff Rushton
Since Jerry Sandusky’s arrest and and conviction on child abuse charges, much of the focus has been on the former Penn State football assistant coach and what individuals at Penn State may have known about his actions.
Though not ignored — the Harrisburg Patriot-News published a special investigative series on it in 2012 — less attention has been paid to his Second Mile nonprofit organization for at-risk children, where prosecutors said Sandusky found and groomed the children he was convicted of molesting.
That may change.
Solicitor General Bruce Castor told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on Monday that he has asked an investigator to report “what an investigation into the Second Mile might look like.”
Castor told the Tribune-Review that he began to consider the idea while writing an opinion for Attorney General Kathleen Kane that advised not appealing a state Superior Court decision that quashed charges of perjury, obstruction and conspiracy charges against former Penn State president Graham Spanier, vice president Gary Schultz and athletic director Tim Curley.
“It began bothering me like a pebble in my shoe, this long-held perception that the Second Mile may have provided some of Sandusky’s victims,” Castor said. “My question is, what did they know and when did they know it?”
He said if there is an investigation it is unclear if charges could result because of statutes of limitations.
Former prosecutors familiar with the Sandusky investigation told the Tribune-Review that an extensive investigation of Second Mile board members was conducted. A federal investigation was also conducted, but a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Harrisburg wouldn’t comment.
A judge gave the Second Mile permission to dissolve in March, turning its remaining assets over to the Attorney General’s office. After any outstanding claims are settled, the assets will be distributed among other charitable organizations.
Founded by Sandusky in 1977, the Second Mile all but ceased its operations entirely following Sandusky’s arrest in 2011. Prior to Sandusky’s arrest the organization had about $9 million in assets. It has sold its office building, other real estate, intellectual property and other holdings, and transferred some of its program operations and funds to Arrow Child & Family Ministries.
At its peak, The Second Mile was widely-praised. President George H.W. Bush in 1990 included it in his “Thousand Points of Light,” calling it a “shining example” of charity work. The Second Mile served up to 100,000 children a year.
Less than two weeks after Sandusky’s arrest, Jack Raykovitz, who was CEO of the Second Mile for 28 years, resigned. Sandusky informed the Second Mile board three years prior to his arrest that he was under investigation. After that Sandusky was no longer involved with programs involving children, the charity’s board said in 2011.
Board members and staff later said they were not fully informed by Raykovitz about the scope of the investigation into Sandusky. Board members also said Raykovitz had not informed them of his knowledge about the 2001 incident in which Mike McQueary reported seeing Sandusky assaulting a boy in a Penn State shower.
Former board member Bruce Heim wrote in 2015 that Raykovitz informed him and other executive committee members in 2001 that Curley had informed him about Sandusky being in the shower with a child but that no inappropriate behavior had occurred. He said investigators looked for evidence of misconduct by the Second Mile for years and found no wrongdoing, and that he and other board members testified to the investigating grand jury.
The investigation into the Second Mile was initially led by the AG’s office under Tom Corbett, though charges were not filed until after Corbett was elected governor, which raised questions about whether Corbett had slow-walked the investigation. An independent report commissioned by Kane found the length of the investigation was mostly warranted.
The investigation continued while Corbett was governor, and just months before Sandusky’s arrest, Corbett approved a $3 million grant to the Second Mile to build a “Center for Excellence.” Corbett’s office later said the grant had been approved for release a year prior by his predecessor Ed Rendell. He said he couldn’t deny the grant without compromising the investigation. Corbett also received $25,000 in contributions from Second Mile Board member to his campaign for governor in 2010.
Sandusky is serving a 30-60 year sentence at the State Correctional Institute at Greene after his 2012 conviction on 45 counts related to child sexual abuse. He will be back in Centre County Court on Friday as his attorneys continue arguments for a new trial under the Post-Conviction Relief Act.