Sandusky's bail, Second Mile link raise conflict of interest questions about judge

State College - Centre Daily TimesNovember 15, 2011 

Criticism over Jerry Sandusky’s release on $100,000 unsecured bail and an online resume for the judge who set that bail has raised questions of whether she had a conflict of interest.

It was one of two instances where matters related to the Sandusky sex abuse case have come before a court in Centre County. In the other instance, Centre County Judge Thomas King Kistler ordered that Sandusky’s visits with three of his grandchildren must be supervised, after a petition from their mother requesting visitation be revoked.

In the case of District Judge Leslie Dutchcot, she isn’t talking and neither is the Attorney General’s Office.

“Judges are not allowed to comment on cases,” Dutchcot said when reached at home about the potential conflict. “We can’t comment on anything that’s pending in front of us.”

On a previous version of the website for Goodall & Yurchak in State College, for whom Dutchcot serves as counsel, The Second Mile was listed among her volunteer activities.

That is the nonprofit organization founded by Sandusky in 1977 to serve at-risk youth. The former Penn State football coach faces 40 counts related to alleged sexual abuse of eight boys over a 15-year period.

The version of the Goodall & Yurchak site that could be viewed Monday does not include that information.

Dutchcot’s profile does say she was named State College Jaycees Lawyer of the Year in 2005. That organization holds picnics for The Second Mile’s children at the conclusion of summer camps.

The Second Mile annual report for 2009 also lists her and her husband as making a donation of $500 to $999 to the charity.

They are not listed as donors in the 2008 or 2010 annual reports.

Nils Frederiksen, spokesman for the attorney general, would not answer questions related to a potential conflict.

“It’s not appropriate for us to be discussing Judge Dutchcot at this time,” he said.

Sandusky was released on $100,000 unsecured bail, and ordered not to have contact with minors. The Attorney General’s Office had requested “a monetary, cash bail; a high bail,” Frederiksen said.

“We didn’t specify the amount,” he said.

“We also had requested electronic monitoring and the surrender of his passport.”

The office also asked that Sandusky not have unsupervised contact with minors.

Sandusky’s attorney, Joe Amendola, argued for lower bail, saying that Sandusky is not a flight risk, nor is he a danger to the community. Amendola noted that Sandusky had been aware of the grand jury investigation for two years, and had appeared to face charges as soon as he was notified that they would be filed.

In a recent court petition, Jill Jones filed a petition for emergency modification of custody, asking that Sandusky’s son, Matthew, not be allowed to take their three children to Jerry and Dorothy Sandusky’s home. Jones and Matthew Sandusky share custody of the children, ages 5, 7 and 9.

The complaint states the children “regularly” have been in their grandparents’ care while with their father. Upon learning of the charges against Jerry Sandusky, Jones asked Matthew Sandusky not to take the children to his home, the complaint said.

“Mother does not believe that it is in the best interests of her children to be at Jerry Sandusky’s residence or in the presence of Jerry Sandusky until such time as the current serious allegations against him are resolved by the courts,” the complaint stated.

Kistler, on Nov. 7, signed an order in response that required the children to be supervised — it does not specify by whom — when in Jerry Sandusky’s presence, and banning overnight visits.

A call to Kistler for comment on his judgment was referred to Centre County Court Administrator Maxine Ishler, who could not be reached before press time.

To read more, visit www.centredaily.com.

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