The attorney general’s role

Published January 4, 2012

Wanted to share this missive from a Tennessean with no ties to Penn State, who questioned the attorney general’s role in the turmoil that rocked our family recently.

I agree with her sentiment. And I think the attorney general knew her office went too far when it wrote the grand jury report. The day after Joe’s firing, the AG’s spokesman said this:

“We have a cooperating witness [Paterno], an individual who testified, provided truthful testimony,” Hagen-Frederiksen told, “but two others who were found by a grand jury to commit perjury whose legal expenses are being paid for university. One is on administrative leave. Very interesting development.”

“It’s certainly curious and [has] not been explained yet,” he said. “Speaking as a prosecuting agency, we have a cooperating witness who has not been charged, while two individuals accused of committing crimes continue to be affiliated.”

Reporters (current and former) know that comments like those are highly unusual for prosecutors before a jury verdict has been handed down. I interpreted those comments as a message to the board of trustees that they shouldn’t have relied on the grand jury report in making a decision to fire Joe.

In any event, I believe the AG’s actions should be scrutinized. Perhaps Pennsylvania should even abandon its use of grand jury presentments, like most other states.