PHILADELPHIA — Prosecutors needed about two years between the first report of child sexual abuse involving Jerry Sandusky and the filing of charges because authorities needed to build an "ironclad case" against him, Gov. Tom Corbett said today.
Corbett, then the state attorney general, oversaw the start of the Sandusky investigation after the former Penn State assistant coach was barred from a high school in 2009 when a mother complained about Sandusky. Charges were filed last November.
"I think it surprises some people, the length of time it took," Corbett said. "But having been an assistant DA, an assistant U.S. attorney and handling cases like this, I understood that you have to do a complete investigation and get as many witnesses as you possibly can."
Corbett said the wisdom of the investigation's deliberate pace was evident in the jury's decisive verdict on Friday — convicting Sandusky on all but three counts.
"I think the jury demonstrated with their convictions on 45 of 48 counts that it was an ironclad case," Corbett told CBS' "This Morning."
While defending the slower pace of the investigation, Corbett also defended the speed with which Sandusky's case went from grand jury presentment to trial — seven months. Defense attorney Joe Amendola has said he and fellow attorney Karl Rominger didn't have enough time to prepare their defense and even asked to withdraw from the case because they weren't prepared.
"I'm not surprised that they would say that," Corbett said.
"Obviously it will be the subject of an appeal at some point in time. ... But in this case the jury had the opportunity to hear the compelling testimony of these now young men who were young boys who suffered at the hands of this pedophile."
The current state attorney general, Linda Kelly, told NBC's "Today" show that all parties involved knew the judge intended to move quickly. She said prosecutors supported that decision because Sandusky was on house arrest while awaiting trial.
"We were anxious just to bring the case to a conclusion and move to have his bond revoked and taken into custody," Kelly said.
Sandusky, 68, remains behind bars in the Centre County Correctional Facility, where he's been held since late Friday. It could be months before he's sentenced, and his own attorneys say he will likely spend the rest of his life in prison.
Kelly said Sandusky's sentence will be up to the judge, but she believes the severity of the charges merits a harsh punishment.
"Our prosecution team will ask the judge to fashion a sentence that reflects the horrific acts Mr. Sandusky committed, that takes into account the number of victims that are involved here and the fact that he really does represent a clear and present danger to the community," Kelly said.
Sandusky's conviction is only just the start of possibly years of legal proceedings over the case. Besides appeals, there remains an active investigation into Sandusky by the state attorney general's office as well as a federal investigation.
Corbett said Penn State trustees are still awaiting the results of an internal investigation by former FBI director Louis Freeh into the school's handling of the Sandusky case.