Judge Issues Gag in Sandusky Case–After ESPN Exposes Tom Corbett’s Conflicts

The judge in the Jerry Sandusky case, John Cleland, just gagged all the parties to the case. The Inky suggests the gag is targeted at Sandusky’s lawyer, Joseph Amendola. Of course, Amendola and even Sandusky himself have been working the media since Sandusky was first charged in the case, and the judge never issued a gag. The Inky points to contradictory psychological evaluations from one of the victims, suggesting (without any evident proof) the report came from Sandusky’s team.

Cleland’s gag order comes just more than a week after two conflicting psychological evaluations of one of Sandusky’s alleged victims were leaked to NBC News and other media outlets. Prosecutors had argued that not even the former coach’s defense team should have access to the files because releasing them would violate the rights of the purported victims.

One of the psychologists who interviewed a boy that Sandusky purportedly showered with in 1999 while on the Penn State campus concluded that the coach showed a “pedophile’s pattern of building trust” with a victim. Another, however, saw nothing inappropriate and noted that coaches often showered with their college-aged athletes.

But as the Inky admits, that report came out more than a week ago. A more recent collection of new revelations (with a reference to one of the psychologist’s reports) came from Don Van Natta Jr just two business days ago. His JoePa-friendly investigative report for ESPN focused on Governor Tom Corbett’s role.

A 62-year-old Republican, Corbett is a blunt-spoken former prosecutor whose political career has been built pursuing powerful people who, he has said, “believe they are beyond the law.” And his role in the Penn State scandal, fraught with potential conflicts, placed him in a remarkable position. As Pennsylvania’s attorney general, he investigated Sandusky for nearly two years but failed to make an arrest. But then, as governor, he blamed the university’s leaders for not doing more.


To some, Corbett relished the opportunity and had even planned to play a role in managing the crisis. Eight days before the Sandusky grand jury presentment was released this past November, Corbett’s staff booked hotel rooms in State College. Becoming governor had made Corbett a trustee, and he had decided to attend his first board meeting, after missing the first four. During those days of crisis in State College, he lobbied for the ouster of Paterno and Spanier, ending with that conference call on Nov. 9. And when he was on campus the next day, after Spanier’s resignation and Paterno’s firing, he celebrated the leadership changes. “Throughout this whole process, I felt he had some ulterior motive,” a trustee says of Corbett. “Most trustees felt uncomfortable with his role. It was odd for him to be there and participate the way he did. Very odd.”


A passionate defender of children who had opened a sexual predators unit in his office, Corbett had aggressively pursued such prosecutions during his career. But this time, he assigned just one investigator to the Sandusky case, say lawyers with knowledge of the arrangement, although Corbett has denied this through his spokesman. At the time, he had 14 investigators looking into the activities of Pennsylvania House Speaker Bill DeWeese, a Democrat, who was accused of having staff members use state resources for his campaign.

The information on Corbett appears to come from Penn State’s board and members of the investigative team, who would presumably be covered by the gag, though also by State College locals who reported on Corbett’s actions.

It may well be the judge decided to issue this gag because of those psychological reports (though details about the victims have already leaked). But the timing suggests it might well be targeted at those suggesting Corbett’s actions were less than noble in this affair.

10 replies
  1. Phil Perspective says:

    Corbett is a crook and scumbag. Of course he wasn’t ever seriously investigating. Why would Corbett want to implicate the most famous GOPer(JoePa) in the state?

  2. emptywheel says:

    @Phil Perspective: Not sure if you read the article, but do–it’s very JoePa friendly (perhaps too much so), but it really suggests it’s even more than that. Spite bc JoePa wouldn’t endorse him, for example.

  3. emptywheel says:

    Here’s the gag order.

    Clearly it would affect the AG investigators who provided details of resources Corbett assigned to the case. Not sure whether it’ll restrict Trustees from saying anything–not sure whether they count as defendants or not, though until they throw out the perjury charges against the former PSU bigwigs, I guess they’ll count as witnesses for them.

  4. bmaz says:

    PSU would have to be idiots not to hide behind this; not to mention it likely covers them in item 3 anyway and as witnesses and/or parallel investigating authorities. It is arguably murky, but I cannot believe they would not subject themselves to it.

  5. rugger9 says:

    @bmaz: #4
    Never underestimate stupidity, I read the article and there was a lot of damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

    Of course Sandusky will go on the attack. If true, there’s a lot riding on the lawsuits to follow. If not, it’s a stain that never goes away, so I really think he has nothing more to lose by aggressively challenging the case. Heck, Zimmerman’s trying it with less hope than Sandusky has.

    Corbett’s assessment by Phil is correct, and EW’s observation is also correct, it was something of a win-win, HOWEVER, Corbett still has to explain why some of the 14 panty-sniffers assigned to some routine Harrisburg shenanigans weren’t helping out the one assigned to the Sandusky case when it first came to light.

    Now, JoePa had a tough choice here: believe a close friend or hang him. It wasn’t as though he didn’t know [recall this was at least Round 2 for Sandusky, there might be others still awaiting publication; note that the top-level DC wasn’t looked at by ANYONE needing a head coach when he left PSU, there has to be a reason for that omission] but even if he covered his legal responsibilities by informing Spanier, Sandusky should have been banished immediately until it was sorted out.

    Remember also what happens if an accusation is not supported, like recalling Hatfill, for example, on the Amerithrax case. That was in the minds as well for the Trustees.

  6. rugger9 says:

    OT but still interesting.

    Daily Kos is recommending a post about the USMC sergeant who is getting separated from the USMC due to his comments and pix on two Facebook accounts he had.

    While there are calls for the DD or the BCD [the “big chicken dinner”] I really don’t think his conduct rose to that level of removal, normally reserved for deserters, druggies, murderers, etc. after a trip to at least the CCU if not the brig or Leavenworth. He did not refuse a lawful order, never missed movement, etc. [as far as I’ve seen reported] with the exception of involving himself in a political debate while under orders. That is enough to remove him, however, the DOD directive is long-standing and quite clear, and normally enforced [recall how the GOP would frequently get busted for trying to line their campaign stops with troops under Shrub] and the appropriate vehicle would be the OTH IMHO. FWIW, the General discharge was used for separations under DADT while it was in force. As far as I am concerned, it’s the in-the-face part of it with the TWO accounts [which screams premeditation] that merits the OTH for me. Not enough for the BCD [or worse DD] unless he was pushing his luck in other ways. Once he enlisted, the UCMJ, et seq., covers him and not the First Amendment. Good order and discipline [Article 134] covers that aspect.

    The type of discharge determines the benefits for which the servicemember is eligible in the future, including the right to a military funeral, for example, or VA care.

    The other part of this I really don’t see noted in the various cases to date is how the RW seems to encourage the service members to commit career seppaku to score political points for the RW. One wonders how the LTC drummed out of the military for birtherism [an Orly special, it’s what you get when a dentist practices law] is doing these days, is he on wingnut welfare? Just another example of the RW using our troops and tossing them under the bus when they’re no longer useful.

  7. Phil Perspective says:

    @emptywheel: I’ll read it. But that’s the thing. JoePa hasn’t endorsed anyone in a long time, if he ever has publicly. Hell, he wouldn’t even endorse Cranky McSame back in 2008. So it sounds like in one sense that Corbett is a clueless dolt. Then again, he’s proven to PA residents that he was, and is, a clueless dolt.

  8. Phil Perspective says:

    Okay, I’ve read that piece. And it’s probably even more Corbett friendly than JoePa friendly. At the very least, Van Atta is not as hard on Corbett as he needs to be. Corbett is a protector of young boys? Hahahahaha!! Tell that to Philly!

  9. orionATL says:

    “…Another, however, saw nothing inappropriate and noted that coaches often showered with their college-aged athletes…”

    not that facts matter when influential people have to deal with “da law”,

    but my recollection is sandusky was not showering with “college-age athletes” when he was reported, so this assertion would be a calculated diversion from the central issue.

    my further recollection, though less certain, is that in one case in which sandusky was reported to paterno, sandusky was involved in, how shall i put it delicately, “strong suspicion” of buggering.

    none of these details really matter, however, because, as is clear from the story of the abduction and torture of the anti-ghadaffi person and his wife, reported here yesterday, when an individual gets caught in the currents of efforts to protect or appease several powerful people, e.g., a governor, and several powerful interests, e.g., british petroleum,

    that individual’s fate, specifically his legal fate if any, is sealed – negatively to his mistreatment and to any vindication of his complaint.

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