Pennsylvania state prosecutors filed a secret motion to hold The Second Mile children’s charity in contempt in July after the organization failed to turn over expense records of founder Jerry Sandusky in response to a grand jury subpoena, according to a source familiar with the investigation.
The contempt motion, filed under court seal, was withdrawn in October after some of the missing Sandusky records were found and produced, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. But the charity’s new lawyers are still looking for the rest of the subpoenaed material and seeking to determine whether the missing records were destroyed or removed in an effort to impede the investigation into Sandusky’s relationships with The Second Mile children, said the source, who has been briefed on some of the details of the investigation.
The move to hold The Second Mile in contempt, which has previously not been reported, is the latest indication that the investigation into the Penn State sex abuse scandal may have widened to include obstruction of justice. Asked Monday if obstruction was a focus of Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly’s investigation, her spokesman, Nils Frederiksen, declined comment, citing rules covering the secrecy of matters before the grand jury. “This is a comprehensive, active and ongoing investigation,” he said.
The New York Times reported last week that some The Second Mile board members were alarmed to learn that Sandusky’s travel and expense records for the years 2000 and 2003 were missing from an off-site storage facility. The material had been subpoenaed by prosecutors in an effort to piece together which children in The Second Mile programs may have attracted Sandusky’s attention and received gifts or been taken on trips by him, the paper reported. The Times said that the expense reports for one of those years had apparently been misfiled and were later located, but that the rest of material was still missing -- a development that one unnamed investigator was quoted as calling “suspicious.”
The Second Mile was founded by Sandusky in 1977 to help troubled children in central Pennsylvania. It expanded over the years into a statewide organization that raised millions of dollars from major corporations and attracted high profile honorary board members, such as Arnold Palmer and NFL Hall of Famer Franco Harris. State prosecutors say that Sandusky met each of the eight alleged victims he is accused of abusing through The Second Mile programs. Sandusky has denied the charges.
At the time that Sandusky’s expense records were subpoenaed, the lawyer representing The Second Mile was Wendell Courtney, who for the previous 15 years had been general counsel of Penn State University. Courtney previously told NBC News that he had been retained by The Second Mile in 2009 to represent the organization in its dealings with state prosecutors after the charity was first notified about the investigation into Sandusky. “I am not commenting further on this matter at this time,” Courtney said in an email Monday when asked about the contempt motion filed against the charity.
Courtney is no longer representing The Second Mile. The charity last week announced that it had hired Lynne M. Abraham, the former Philadelphia district attorney, to conduct an internal investigation into what executives at The Second Mile knew about Sandusky’s activities. The charity also announced that Jack Raykovitz, its longtime executive director, had resigned.
There were other signs Monday that the investigations into the scandal could widen. A New York based charity, A Better Chance, confirmed to NBC News that it sent about 30 children to a residential program run by The Second Mile between 1988 and 2001.
Founded in 1963, A Better Chance places talented minority students in high performing public and private schools around the country. One of its leading benefactors is Oprah Winfrey, who has donated over $12 million and served as its national spokesperson.