- Associated Press - Saturday, February 15, 2014

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A former acting state attorney general says his decision to shorten the length of time the office retained its emails had nothing to do with Gov. Tom Corbett or the ongoing Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse investigation.

Bill Ryan, who briefly served as acting attorney general in 2011, said he shortened the retention period to six months because the previous time of five years was too long to keep emails and storage was expensive.

“It had nothing to do with the Sandusky investigation,” he told The Meadville Tribune on Friday.

Ryan was a top deputy in the attorney general’s office under Corbett when the Sandusky investigation began in 2009. Ryan ran the agency for about four months after Corbett left to become governor in January 2011. Corbett appointed Ryan to become chairman of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board in August 2011, and Sandusky was charged in November 2011.

Both Ryan and a spokesman for Corbett said the governor didn’t suggest the policy change. The most important thing is that Sandusky, a former Penn State assistant football coach, was convicted of 45 counts of child sexual abuse, Ryan said.

“That gets lost,” Ryan told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

According to a timeline of the office’s email policies released by Democratic Attorney General Kathleen Kane, retention went from unlimited to five years in 2008 under Corbett, a Republican. In February 2011, Ryan shortened it to six months. A week after Kane was elected in November 2012, she asked for unlimited email retention to be reinstituted and then in July 2013 shortened it to two years.

Kane ran for the attorney general’s office in 2012 promising to investigate how the agency handled the Sandusky criminal case. She criticized the 33-month investigation and the use of a grand jury to bring charges instead of a more immediate approach to filing charges.

A Kane spokesman declined to comment Saturday on whether the investigator looking into how the Sandusky case was handled has been able to recover emails that were deleted by the attorney general’s office.

In a Feb. 5 statement, Kane said “certain factors” had combined to slow the year-old investigation, particularly time-consuming challenges in obtaining emails and other written records. The office had believed until last fall that office emails from the time during the Sandusky investigation had been permanently removed from storage systems and were unrecoverable.

“Since then, we have developed a recovery process that is ongoing,” she said.



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