August 2, 2012; Source: Philadelphia Inquirer

For all the focus on Jerry Sandusky’s sexual depredations in relation to his access to Penn State, Sandusky’s relationship to the Second Mile nonprofit has taken something of a back seat. After former FBI Director Louis Freeh’s report was released, some of the press circled back to Second Mile and was met with a statement from Second Mile CEO David Woodle that an investigation was no longer needed because Second Mile had decided to go out of business. NPQ thinks that doesn’t make sense. The fact that Second Mile is trying to close down or transfer its assets to another entity (Arrow Child and Family Services in Houston, Texas) doesn’t obviate the need to dig into the Second Mile history to figure out whether there was awareness of Sandusky’s activities and/or an appropriate response to allegations.

In November, the charity’s leadership hired former Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne M. Abraham to lead an investigation into the organization’s “internal policies, procedures, and processes” in the wake of the Sandusky case. No report was ever released, though the decision to shut Second Mile down was attributed to Abraham’s recommendations. Did everyone forget what Abraham actually described as her role? “We need to find out how deep this went, who knew about it, when they found out about it, and what was done or not done,” she said at a November news conference. “How was it possible for little kids to be imperiled and we didn’t know it?” How is it possible that Second Mile gets to go out of business without a full accounting (along the lines of what happened at Penn State) to the public—and to the nonprofit sector—of what happened at the charity?

Fortunately, Sara Ganim at the Harrisburg Patriot-News has just authored a special report on what might have happened at Second Mile, though without the benefit of a report like the one produced by Freeh on Penn State. As Ganim notes, “What happened inside The Second Mile has largely been unknown in the eight months since Sandusky’s arrest and the monumental scandal that enveloped Penn State University [that] ensued.” Here are some of the key points presented in Ganim’s series (we recommend reading the whole thing for yourself):

  • The charity was run by the husband and wife team of Jack Raykovitz and Katherine Genovese, but some board members didn’t know they were married and others say they were put off by their closed management style and lack of transparency.

  • Contrary to reports and statements from Genovese that Sandusky retired, Ganim reports that Raykovitz forced Sandusky to resign in 2010 after allegations regarding his behavior in 2009.

  • Second Mile’s leaders kept most of the board and other key staff out of the loop on the Sandusky investigation, according to some board members.

  • According to Bonnie Marshall, who was Second Mile’s development director, Raykovitz acknowledged that he had been informed by Penn State Athletic Director Tim Curley about allegations against Sandusky in 2001. Marshall says that Raykovitz’s response was, “At that point, I didn’t particularly want to know any more and he didn’t volunteer anything else.”

  • A Children and Youth Services official informed Genovese that she needed to sever a relationship with Second Mile because of the situation with Sandusky. According to “several people with knowledge of that conversation,” Ganim writes, Genovese responded by telling the official that, “We’ve had to tell him to back off certain kids before.”

  • Gov. Tom Corbett, who was attorney general during the first couple of years of the Sandusky investigation, benefitted from hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Second Mile staff and board members, both before and after Sandusky was under investigation.

  • Although replacement CEO Woodle had indicated that the Abraham investigation “would bring answers that board members, employees and the community longed for,” Abraham was reportedly redirected to focus “on whether the charity could move forward.” The result has been a plan to close down and shift the assets to Arrow Child and Family.

This is great reporting by Ganim. We are left with the impression that Second Mile is in desperate need of its own version of a Freeh report. –Rick Cohen