The Penn State molestation case involving allegations of child sexual abuse against a former assistant football coach has taken on various twists since the scandal first rocked the revered university.
Perhaps one of the most bizarre angles being explored at this point is the possible connection between a missing Pennsylvania district attorney, who has since been declared legally dead, and the main defendant in the Penn State criminal case.
Ray Gricar was the district attorney in Centre County, Pa., the county in which Pennsylvania State University is located, up until the time he seemed to up and vanish into thin air in 2005.
Gricar, who was 59 at the time of his disappearance, has never been found. His story has been a topic of great debate to area conspiracy theorists and those of a curious nature.
Gricar’s last call was to his live-in girlfriend, Patty Fornicola, according to media reports on what is perhaps the most infamous missing person cases in Pennsylvania in quite some time.
After telling Fornicola he would be going out for a drive in Lewisburg, Pa., Gricar was never heard from again. His car was later found in an abandoned parking lot. It contained his county-issued cell phone but no other personal effects.
His laptop computer was later fished out of the Susquehanna River, but the hard drive was missing. It was found by a passerby months after Gricar’s disappearance, although it was too badly damaged to be of use to investigators.
Theories have abounded on what might have happened to Gricar, although nothing has ever materialized to the point of a solved case. The investigation remained opened for years until Gricar was declared legally deceased this year.
According to media reports, Gricar had investigated former Penn State football defensive coordinator Gerald “Jerry” Sandusky in 1998 for allegations involving the former assistant coach inappropriately showering with an 11-year-old boy.
But no official charges were ever brought by the Centre County District Attorney’s Office, presumably because there wasn’t enough evidence to make a winnable case for the prosecution.
Because Gricar hasn’t been found, it is likely the questions swirling around Gricar’s then-decision not to prosecute Sandusky may never be answered.
“I still don’t have a guess one way or the other,” Gricar’s nephew, Tony Gricar, told the Huffington Post last week. “Do I think there is any connection to the Sandusky case? No.”
Pennsylvania authorities that worked on the Ray Gricar case also doubt there is a link between the two cases.
Bellefonte, Pa. police detective Matthew Rickard, who investigated Gricar’s disappearance, told the Associated Press last week that he doesn’t believe the Gricar missing person case is related to the Sandusky child sex-abuse case. Still, Rickard vowed to review how Gricar handled the 1998 case against Sandusky.
While some, like Ray Gricar’s nephew, Tony, believe there is no connection between the two cases, one theory goes that Gricar decided not to prosecute Sandusky in 1998 because of the former assistant football coach’s status in a prominent institution.
According to figures from Penn State’s website, there were 96,519 students enrolled at the university as of this year. While the university has various satellite campuses throughout the state, the school’s main campus has, by far, the most number of students.
The university figures prominently in Centre County, Pa., which, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, had a population of nearly 154,000 in 2010.
The actual borough of State College, Pa., a municipality named for the revered school, by contrast, had just over 42,000 residents in 2010, according to the Census Bureau.