Special prosecutor to probe Penn State grand jury
HARRISBURG, Pa. — A special prosecutor has been appointed to examine whether secrecy rules were violated in grand jury proceedings that investigated Jerry Sandusky and three former Penn State administrators who are currently facing criminal charges.
Lawyer James M. Reeder was given six months to look into the matter, according to a Feb. 8 order from Judge Barry Feudale first reported on Wednesday by The Associated Press.
The order relates to the 33rd Statewide Investigating Grand Jury, which issued reports in 2011 and 2012 that led to molestation charges against Sandusky and perjury charges against former Penn State president Graham Spanier, former athletic director Tim Curley and retired vice president Gary Schultz.
Pennsylvania investigative grand juries often work on more than one matter, and it was unclear from the document whether the possible secrecy violations were related to the Penn State cases or other cases before the panel. The order also applies to a Dauphin County grand jury investigation that in January 2008 reported on a casino license investigation.
But Feudale has recently been trying to sort out a legal dispute involving whether former Penn State lawyer Cynthia Baldwin should have been present at a grand jury proceeding, and his order made specific reference to a section of the state’s criminal procedure rule titled “Who May Be Present During Session of an Investigating Grand Jury.”
That section reads:
“All persons who are to be present while the grand jury is in session shall be identified in the record, shall be sworn to secrecy as provided in these rules, and shall not disclose any information pertaining to the grand jury except as provided by law.”
Feudale also charged Reeder with looking into potential violations of another section, titled “Disclosure of Testimony Before Investigating Grand Jury.” He also asked that the inquiry examine a law that criminalizes disclosure of grand jury proceedings by anyone but witnesses and another law that makes it a crime to obstruct the administration of law or other governmental functions.
In relation to the obstruction law, Feudale highlighted a portion that said it applied to “breach of official duty or other unlawful act.”