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Special prosecutor to investigate Penn State grand jury secrecy

Jerry Sandusky (C) leaves the Centre County Courthouse after his sentencing in his child sex abuse case in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania October
Jerry Sandusky (C) leaves the Centre County Courthouse after his sentencing in his child sex abuse case in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania October

By Dave Warner

(Reuters) - A special prosecutor has been named to probe whether secrecy rules were breached in the grand jury that indicted former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky and other university officials in the school's child sex abuse scandal.

The judge who oversaw the grand jury, Barry Feudale, said in a four-page court order written on February 8 that he appointed attorney and former state Deputy Attorney General James Reeder to conduct the investigation.

Sandusky, 69, was found guilty in June of abusing 10 boys he targeted through a charity he founded for at-risk youth. He is serving a 30- to 60-year prison sentence.

The grand jury that indicted Sandusky issued its report in November 2011. Grand jury proceedings are kept secret by law.

In the order, the judge said after a preliminary investigation, "this court in its capacity as supervising judge ... finds there are reasonable grounds to believe a further more substantive investigation is warranted into allegations that statewide and/or county grand jury secrecy may have been compromised."

The judge's order did not spell out any details about any potential breaches in the case.

Three other Penn State officials - former president Graham Spanier, former athletic director Tim Curley and retired vice president Gary Schultz - also face charges in the case.

The judge said in the order that the special prosecutor has the power to prosecute anyone who illegally disclosed grand jury information. He gave Reeder six months to complete the probe.

Spanier's attorney, Timothy Lewis, said he would have no comment, while attorneys for Schultz and Curley could not be reached.

Spanier is accused of perjury and obstruction of justice in what the grand jury called a "conspiracy of silence" to cover up Sandusky's crimes.

Curley and Schultz face charges of child endangerment, criminal conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

All three men have pleaded not guilty.

(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Jackie Frank)

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