June 26, 2012
Attorney General Linda Kelly issues statement regarding the conviction of Jerry Sandusky
Good evening and thank you for your patience.
I am Attorney General Linda Kelly and joining me are members of our prosecution team and investigators on this case. Some you may recognize from their roles in the courtroom, and others who have worked behind-the-scenes: Senior Deputy Attorney General Joe McGettigan; Chief Deputy Attorney General Frank Fina; Senior Deputy Attorney General Jonelle Harter Eshbach; Major Bret Waggoner, Director of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation for the Pennsylvania State Police; Regional Director Randy Feathers and Agent Tony Sassano.
These men and women, along with many other agents, troopers, investigators, attorneys and staff at the Attorney General's Office and Pennsylvania State Police have worked tirelessly for the last several years working to bring these charges to light, to bring this case to court and to see the day that this defendant, a serial child predator who committed horrific acts upon his victims causing lifelong and life-changing consequences for them, was held accountable for these crimes. I would like to thank each of these individuals for the important role they played in pursuing this case to today?s verdict.
I also want to offer my most sincere thanks to all of the young men - the victims in this case - who came forward so bravely during this trial and testified to finally put a stop to the crimes being committed by this defendant. They have shown great strength and courage during the investigation, candidly and sometimes chillingly telling their stories not only to a jury and packed courtroom audience here in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, but also to the entire world.
It was incredibly difficult for some of them to unearth long buried memories of the shocking abuse they suffered, and most of us cannot comprehend what they endured when testifying in that packed courtroom. This trial was not something they sought, but rather something that forced them to face the demons of their past and reveal what happened to them and their childhood when they met Jerry Sandusky. We hope that our search for justice in this case will help them and other victims, watching from near and afar as this case unfolded.
One of the recurring themes of the witness' testimony, from the voices of the victims themselves, was, "Who would believe a kid?"
The answer to that question is: "We here in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania would believe a kid."
I think I speak not only for our agency, but also for law enforcement across the country when I say we would believe a kid. And as reflected by this verdict, a jury of 12 people here in Bellefonte most definitely would, and did, believe a kid.
Although we know that the scars these victims bear cannot be erased by the events in a courtroom, we hope the outcome of this case not only allows these victims to heal and to begin the process of recovering and rebuilding their lives, but also encourages other victims of sexual abuse to come forward. This is a crime that thrives in the darkness - fed by fear and threats, shame and secrecy - where predators carefully seek the most vulnerable prey while often cloaking themselves in respectability, almost beyond reproach.
Of all the thousands of cases that constantly stream through our judicial system, every once and a while one case will, for a brief moment, capture the attention and eyes of the world, mesmerizing us until it plays itself out and its stardom fades. I think we have all recognized that since the day of the grand jury presentment in this matter that this was one of those uncommon cases, and that ever since the eyes of the world have been upon us.
You in the media have covered the proceeding in this case with exceptional attentiveness and thoughtfulness. You have produced much thoughtful commentary and insightful analysis over the course of this trial, resulting in the raising of consciousness of your readers and listeners and increased awareness by the public of the monstrous acts that can be committed by sexual predators like the defendant in this case. They live among us and may appear to be pillars of the community - coaching icons, sports legends, and charity executives extraordinaire - but who also calculatingly, and with meticulous planning, mercilessly prey upon the most vulnerable members of our society.
They carefully and purposely select their victims - in this case underprivileged kids, some from broken homes, foster homes, one-parent families, and many having other issues like learning, behavioral and emotional problems as well. They all, in their time of need, turned to a charity known as The Second Mile, where we know that Jerry Sandusky trolled for victims.
There are many important lessons that can be learned from this case. One of them is that we cannot let the national focus that this case has brought upon child sexual abuse to fade after the cameras are turned off and the media has shifted its focus to the next important story. We have to continue to focus on child sexual abuse - to shine a bright light in those dark places where the Jerry Sandusky's of the world lurk - places that most definitely exist in our society. We need to continue to protect our children and to learn from the lessons of this case.
And for those who fail to respond to reports of child sexual abuse, their behavior is abominable and has tragic consequences for the young victims like the ones you have heard from this week. These kids need our help and support, so we as a society must not turn our backs, look away or convince ourselves that it doesn't exist - when in fact it does.
This is a law enforcement issue and every police department and investigative agency across the country should take note of this case and ensure that every claim of child sexual abuse is addressed promptly and investigated thoroughly, with the understanding that where there is one victim, there may well be more.
This is an institutional issue. Every institution that comes into contact with children should operate under the premise that is it not only their LEGAL responsibility to report suspected child abuse - the legal part is easy to grasp - but more importantly, there is a moral and ethical imperative to do so. Concealing or attempting to minimize this type of crime is unacceptable as well as unconscionable and should not and cannot be tolerated.
This is a family issue and hopefully parents across the country will learn from this case how important it is to be vigilant about your child's interactions with others and to make your child conscious of their safety and aware that they should report these types of incidents.
And finally, this is a community issue. Outside of our roles as prosecutors, police officers, and other professionals, we all have an interest in keeping our communities safe, and particularly our children safe and secure. Protecting our children, who truly are our most valuable natural resource, should always be a priority. Everyone has a responsibility to be aware of the possibility of this type of crime and to speak out if you note something troubling.
I thank you all for your patience and dedication in covering this case. Your work has carried this story - and the lessons that go hand-in-hand with it - far beyond the borders of Centre County and has helped to raise awareness about this issue. If there are people out there watching right now who have been victims of child sexual abuse, as part of any case, anywhere, I encourage you to contact authorities in your community and seek out the support and assistance you need.
There are no instant solutions to this problem, but working together we can hope to make progress, we can help the voices of victims be heard and we can drive away the demons and the darkness and lift the veil of secrecy that allows predators to hide and operate in our midst.
The Commonwealth's interest in a criminal prosecution like this one is not merely to win the case but rather to see that justice shall be done. The two-fold aim of which is that guilty shall not escape nor innocence suffer. Our goal has always been to bring about a fair and just result in this case. That goal has been accomplished with the jury's verdict today and we believe that justice has been served.
Thank you very much.