For years, Penn State alumni have clamored for a federal investigation of The Second Mile charity founded by convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky.
It turns out that the U.S. Attorney's office and the FBI have already conducted a federal investigation of The Second Mile. It's an investigation that's apparently been closed since at least 2014, with the result that no charges were ever filed.
In response to FOI requests filed by Ryan Bagwell, a former newspaper reporter and unsuccessful candidate for Penn State trustee, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Washington, D.C. released some 1,000 pages of documents from the closed files of The Second Mile probe.
What's the bottom line?
"It's a big nothing burger," said John Snedden, a former NCIS and FIS special agent who just got through reviewing the documents. "There was an investigation and there was nothing to pursue, and no charges were filed."
Most of the notes in the released files appear to be FBI interviews conducted in 2012 with Second Mile board members in both the State College office and other regional offices. The interviews described how Second Mile board members reacted to the Sandusky revelations dating back to as early as 2010 and 2011.
"Not a single person admitted to knowing about Sandusky's crimes prior to the presentment," Snedden said. Two people claim to know about "missing donor money," but nothing else is said about that subject in the rest of the released files.
The documents released by the feds are heavily redacted, but there are many references to Second Mile board members circling the wagons. References were made in the documents to false allegations being made by a "disgruntled mother" and a "disgruntled kid."
The documents are more noticeable for what they don't say. Such as in the issue of jurisdiction involving the Sandusky investigation. If, for example, in their investigation of The Second Mile, if the feds any found any evidence of a federal crime, such as Sandusky crossing state lines with sex abuse victims, "They would have taken it [the investigation] away from the state for prosecution," Snedden said.
"But they [the feds] didn't do any of that," Snedden said after reviewing the documents. "There's no indication they did that."
Instead, the attorney general pursued the Sandusky investigation, and the feds pursued The Second File.
"Sadly, neither focused on political vindictiveness and corruption, which is exactly what happened here," Snedden said.
Snedden has his own experience with a previous secret federal investigation into the Penn State scandal. In 2012, working as a special agent for the Federal Investigative Services, Snedden did a background investigation of former Penn State President Graham Spanier, to see if Spanier's high level security clearance should be renewed by the government.
As part of that investigation, Snedden investigated whether Spanier had orchestrated a coverup of Sandusky's crimes. Snedden's investigation concluded that there was no cover up at Penn State, because there was no sex crime to cover up. As far as Snedden was concerned, Mike McQueary, the guy who witnessed a naked Sandusky allegedly abusing a boy in the Penn State showers, was not a credible witness.
Spanier's clearance was renewed as the result of an 110-page report that Snedden wrote back in 2012, a report that was declassified earlier this year.
"I see a lot of interviews with a lot of different people, a wide range of positions in the Second Mile hierarchy," Snedden said. "And I don't see any people admitting to knowing anything concrete about Sandusky."
In the interviews, there are quotes from woman who "had always heard positive things about the organization. She had never heard anything bad about TSM founder Jerry Sandusky."
Another woman interviewed by the FBI described Sandusky's "nondescript entrance and presence" at a March 25, 2011 "Celebration of Excellence" event in Hershey.
"Sandusky was not acknowledged during the event formally by TSM," the woman told the FBI.
"On March 31, 2011, the Patriot News published an article about the grand jury investigation" of Sandusky," the woman told the FBI. "The article was everywhere and everyone was talking about it."
"She didn't recall seeing any evidence of financial improprieties or anything otherwise questionable," the FBI 302 stated. "She did not personally observe any misuse of donations."
"The general mood of the room was that of denial," the woman told the FBI. "Everyone appeared to be in support of Sandusky and TSM."
In another 302, an unidentified witness said, "He did not observe any inappropriate behavior." On the same form, someone, possibly Sandusky himself stated the complainant "was a disgruntled kid, not associated with TSM. He was not aware at the time that the allegation was sexual in nature"
Another 302 notes that one board member was "shocked after reading the indictment." In addition, "four or five board members in particular were upset that they were never notified. The exchange was heated."
In the 302s, there was discussion of an earlier 1998 allegation that Sandusky had abused another youth in the shower, but "the allegations were considered 'unfounded.'"
There is also discussion in the 302s about an alleged allegation involving the Clinton County Children and Youth Services[CYS].
"CYS did have a safety plan in the event a child was a victim of sexual abuse," the 302 stated. "They did not need to enact their safety plan for SANDUSKY's case because the allegation was not founded and all actions taken by CYS were 'by the book.' "
Bagwell said he has filed multiple FOI requests as part of his Penn State Sunshine Fund. Bagwell, a former newspaper reporter who is now a web developer, said he filed his requests because he was seeking primary source documents from the Sandusky investigation.
"What frustrated me about everything since the very beginning was a complete and utter lack of transparency," Bagwell said.
Bagwell, himself a former journalist, said the press coverage of the scandal has been "abysmal, reactionary and sensationalistic," as well as "factually incorrect." Bagwell said he hopes the newly released documents will have a calming effect on Penn State Nation.
"Penn Staters are still screaming for an investigation for years of The Second Mile," Bagwell said. "Well, it turns out there was an investigation."
"My overall view is that everything here [in the documents] seems to support the idea that The Second Mile didn't knowingly do anything wrong," Bagwell said. "The Penn Staters who are clamoring for heads at The Second Mile to roll, I don't think that's an outcome that's appropriate at this point in time."