Newly-inaugurated Attorney General Kathleen Kane finally gets to embark upon her much-anticipated quest to learn why it took a mind-numbing three years for gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett to arrest serial child rapist Jerry Sandusky. The first person she should put under oath is Bill DeWeese.
Until recently, DeWeese fully expected to be taking a different oath this month, to be sworn in for another term in the House of Representatives. He’s since been forced to abandon the fantasy that he could win reelection from his prison cell and be absolved of his felony conviction through appeal in time to take office.
He’s so far remained mum on his role in the chain of events that left the Office of Attorney General too short-staffed to investigate Sandusky in 2009. He may still be under the delusion he has a political career left to protect. But he holds the key that unlocks the mystery behind Corbett’s inaction on Sandusky.
It’s possible – even probable – that Corbett slow-walked the Sandusky investigation for fear of antagonizing Penn State's vast fan base, or to keep the river of campaign cash flowing from Second Mile board members and associates.
But it’s undeniable that what transpired between Corbett and DeWeese affected Corbett’s ability, if not his desire, to pursue the Sandusky case.
After all, what was Corbett doing when he should have been investigating Sandusky? He was investigating DeWeese. And why would he need to be investigating DeWeese then, when he'd spent the entire previous two years investigating House Democrats?
Remember, the Sandusky case landed on Corbett’s desk in March of 2009, when Corbett should have been basking in the glow of his politically-motivated indictments of House Democratic staffers, a disgraced former Democratic Whip and the Democratic candidate for a competitive Senate seat.
Instead, what happened in March of 2009 was the revelation that Corbett – for some reason – had ignored rock-solid evidence that DeWeese was complicit in awarding taxpayer-funded bonuses for political work. At the time, Corbett already was under fire for leaving House Republicans out of his two-year investigation of the legislature and was scrambling to build a case against John Perzel. The additional pressure to find a way to indict DeWeese resulted in “a shortage of investigators,” according to Randy Feathers, a narcotics agent who inexplicably headed up the most important child abuse investigation of Corbett’s tenure in the OAG.
In October, Corbett appointed Feathers to the state Board of Probations and Parole.
No one doubts that DeWeese was complicit in awarding bonuses for campaign work. Not only is the “U R welcome” email a smoking gun that not even Corbett could fail to recognize, but DeWeese essentially admitted his guilt by “taking the Fifth” and refusing to testify at Mike Veon’s trial. Yet no one has explained why DeWeese never was charged in connection with bonuses, even after Corbett spent most of 2009 investigating him instead of Sandusky. Does the answer lie in the 2007 negotiation between DeWeese and Corbett, that resulted in DeWeese dropping his legal challenges to the probe and turning over evidence intended to incriminate others? If Corbett hadn’t struck a deal with DeWeese on bonus charges in 2007, would Corbett have had to spend most of 2009 looking for something else on which to indict DeWeese?
And if he hadn’t had to do that, could he - would he? - have gone after Sandusky the way most Pennsylvanians believe he should have?