Making swift moves to deliver on her campaign promise to investigate Governor Tom Corbett’s handling of the investigation of child sexual-abuse accusations against Jerry Sandusky, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane has tapped H. Geoffrey Moulton Jr. as the special prosecutor leading her office’s examination of Corbett’s pursuit of the case.
According to a press release Monday from the Office of the Attorney General, Moulton will start his work "effective immediately." The release was short on details about how the investigation will play out and focused mainly on Moulton’s background, which includes work as the first assistant U.S. attorney to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the leader of an administrative review for the U.S. Department of the Treasury following the Waco siege of 1993.
Kane said Moulton will report directly to her throughout the process and pledged to make his findings available to the public after the investigation is complete.
"Mr. Moulton is a highly respected former federal prosecutor who will assist us in providing a comprehensive and independent examination of the facts surrounding the handling of the Sandusky investigation," Kane said. "Once the facts have been uncovered, my office will make these findings available to the public."
Currently a professor at Widener University School of Law in Delaware, Moulton also has experience working as chief counsel to former U.S. Senator Ted Kaufman, D-Del., and as the chief of staff and deputy special inspector general for the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program.
Attorneys in the white-collar criminal defense bar who have worked with Moulton said Kane had picked a man of "unquestionable integrity" who would not bow to political pressure or any other influence.
"He’s not capable of being influenced in any way, shape or form," said Richard L. Scheff, chairman of Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads. "It’s not within his fabric to have anything like that happen."
Scheff, who worked with Moulton at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, said Moulton’s first step would be to assemble a small team for the day-to-day work, possibly from within the Attorney General’s Office.
He said it would be "almost impossible to tell" how long the investigation would last.
Marc S. Raspanti, of Pietragallo, Gordon, Alfano, Bosick & Raspanti, said the length of the investigation would come down to its scope.
"Will it be a fresh review where every piece of evidence is looked at?" Raspanti said. "If that’s the scope, it will take a long time — six months, eight months to a year."
If Kane is requiring a written report, even more.
For Raspanti, who has tried cases against Moulton, Kane has picked someone who maintains a laser focus on the facts and the evidence.
"He doesn’t get distracted by many other things. He just doesn’t. It’s not his nature."
As for the politics?
"I don’t know what his party affiliation is and as I sit here I can’t tell," Raspanti added. "That’s a good thing."
That’s because in her successful campaign, Kane emphasized her critique of Corbett’s actions in the Sandusky investigation. How she delivers on her promise to probe Corbett’s handling of the matter could be politically delicate.
Eventually, Corbett’s successor as attorney general, Linda L. Kelly, secured convictions of Sandusky on 45 of 48 counts of child sexual abuse in June 2012.
But Kane has maintained that, by using a grand jury to investigate the former Penn State defensive coordinator, Corbett launched a 33-month investigation in a case where the suspect could have been arrested after his first accuser came forward.
Corbett has defended the use of a grand jury as a necessary investigative tool against Sandusky and denied allegations that he slowed the process for political reasons while he ran for governor.
In becoming the first Democrat, and first woman elected Pennsylvania attorney general, Kane defeated former U.S. Representative Patrick Murphy in the Democratic primary and then in the general election swamped the GOP nominee, David Freed, the Cumberland County district attorney.
Political analysts pointed to Kane’s pledge to closely examine Corbett’s handling of the allegations against Sandusky as one of the main issue contrasts between her and Freed, and one of the reasons for her victory margin of more than 800,000 votes, or more than 14 percent of nearly 5.6 million votes cast.