Porn email scandal grips Pennsylvania capitol

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Pennsylvania Officials In Porn Email Scandal Named By Attorney General

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A widening scandal over the exchange of emails containing pornography by current and former members of the attorney general's office has gripped the Pennsylvania Capitol all week.

Pennsylvania's state Supreme Court chief justice demanded information on whether any judges were part of the exchanges. Gov. Tom Corbett, who was attorney general when the emails were exchanged, was forced to defend his management of the office as he campaigns for a second term.

And on Thursday, two top officials who followed Corbett from the attorney general's office into his gubernatorial administration resigned.

Corbett disclosed the resignations of Environmental Protection Secretary Christopher Abruzzo and Glenn Parno, a top lawyer in the Department of Environmental Protection, in separate announcements hours apart, just as the attorney general's office was releasing copies of their email messages to the governor's office and news organizations.

Their departures came a week after Attorney General Kathleen Kane's office identified them as being among eight ex-employees who sent or received hundreds of pornographic images or videos in emails that were discovered during Kane's review of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse prosecution.

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Porn email scandal grips Pennsylvania capitol
BELLEFONTE, PA - OCTOBER 09: Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky leaves the Centre County Courthouse after being sentenced in his child sex abuse case on October 9, 2012 in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. The 68-year-old Sandusky was sentenced to at least 30 years and not more that 60 years in prison for his conviction in June on 45 counts of child sexual abuse, including while he was the defensive coordinator for the Penn State college football team. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane, left, along with Special Deputy Attorney Genera H. Geoffery Moulton Jr., talks about a report into the Jerry Sandusky child molestation investigation, during a news conference Monday, June 23, 2014, in Harrisburg, Pa. (AP Photo/Bradley C Bower)
Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathlen Kane, left and Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan conduct a news conference at the Capitol announcing charges against a former state Senate leader and seven others in what they called a "pay to play" case involving the Pennsylvania Turnpike Thursday, March 13, 2013 in Harrisburg, Pa. (AP Photo/Bradley C Bower)
BELLEFONTE, PA - OCTOBER 09: Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky walks into the Centre County Courthouse before being sentenced in his child sex abuse case on October 9, 2012 in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. Sandusky faces more than 350 years in prison for his conviction in June on 45 counts of child sexual abuse, including while he was the defensive coordinator for the Penn State college football team. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
BELLEFONTE, PA - JUNE 22: Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky leaves the Centre County Courthouse in handcuffs after a jury found him guilty in his sex abuse trial on June 22, 2012 in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. The jury found Sandusky guilty on 45 of 48 counts in the sexual abuse trial of the former Penn State assistant football coach, who was charged with sexual abuse of 10 boys over a 15-year period. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
This video framegrab provided by the courthouse pool via Commonwealth Media Services shows Jerry Sandusky describing his career and retirement from Penn State by video link from Greene State Prison in southwestern Pennsylvania, Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014, as testimony began in a hearing into whether he can get back the retirement benefits he lost after being convicted of child molestation. (AP Photo/Commonwealth Media Services)
Jerry Sandusky arrives for his hearing at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, on Thursday, January 10, 2013. (Michael Kubel/Allentown Morning Call/MCT via Getty Images)
Dottie Sandusky, the wife of Jerry Sandusky arrives at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, for a hearing for her husband on Thursday, January 10, 2013. (Nabil K. Mark/Centre Daily Times/MCT via Getty Images)
Former Penn State assistant football coach Mike McQueary exits the Dauphin County Courthouse, Monday, July 29, 2013, in Harrisburg, Pa. McQueary testified Monday as a star witness in a hearing for three former Penn State officials accused in a cover-up in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
FILE - In this Aug. 6, 1999, file photo, Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno, right, poses with his defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky during Penn State Media Day at State College, Pa. An amended complaint by the family and estate of Joe Paterno and others was filed Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in county court near State College that added Penn State as a "nominal defendant" in a lawsuit against the NCAA over the university's penalties for the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal. (AP Photo/Paul Vathis, File)
FILE - In this July 12, 2012 file photo, former FBI director Louis Freeh speaks about the Freeh Report during a news conference, in Philadelphia. Penn State has released a document detailing its agreement with former FBI director Louis Freeh to investigate the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal, a review that cost the school about $8.1 million. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
Penn State University Office of the Physical Plant workers remove the concrete landing area that held the Joe Paterno statue, Tuesday, July 24, 2012, in State College, Pennsylvania. The statue was removed on Sunday in the wake of the Louis Freeh report and Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal. (Nabil K. Mark/Centre Daily Times/MCT via Getty Images)
STATE COLLEGE, PA - JULY 22: Members of the Hells Angels from Connecticut visit the site where the statue of former Penn State University football coach Joe Paterno once stood outside Beaver Stadium on July 22, 2012 in State College, The statue was removed by workers after Pennsylvania. Penn State's president Rodney Erickson made the decision Sunday in the wake of the child sex scandal of former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. According to an FBI report, it is believed that Paterno had detailed knowledge of Jerry Sandusky sexually abusing children before and after Sandusky retired from coaching at Penn State. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
BELLEFONTE, PA - OCTOBER 09: Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky (C) leaves the Centre County Courthouse after being sentenced in his child sex abuse case on October 9, 2012 in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. The 68-year-old Sandusky was sentenced to at least 30 years and not more that 60 years in prison for his conviction in June on 45 counts of child sexual abuse, including while he was the defensive coordinator for the Penn State college football team. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Republican Gov. Tom Corbett speaks during a gubernatorial debate with Democrat Tom Wolf on Monday, Sept. 22, 2014, in Hershey, Pa. The debate is hosted by the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
STATE COLLEGE, PA - NOVEMBER 10: Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett speaks at a news conference following a night of rioting in response to the firing of head football coach Joe Paterno in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal on November 10, 2011 in State College, Pennsylvania. Corbett is the former state attorney general who launched the investigation in 2009 that eventually brought criminal charges against three former Penn State officials this week. As governor, Corbett is an ex-oficio member of Penn State’s board of trustees. Paterno was fired amid allegations that former former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was involved with child sex abuse. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
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All eight men, who also include state police Commissioner Frank Noonan, worked under Corbett while he was the state's elected attorney general from 2005 to 2011. Corbett had requested details on the emails in question before determining if the four men employed in his administration should keep their jobs.

Kane is a Democrat who took office last year. Corbett, a Republican, is in the closing weeks of an uphill re-election campaign against Democrat Tom Wolf.

A review of the heavily redacted emails revealed an abundance of comments that were sexually suggestive, mostly about photographs that were originally attached to the emails but were not included in the released material.

Some of the more than 300 emails that the attorney general's office says Noonan received bore sexually tinged subject lines, such as "Bikini Wax Job."

Another message, received by some but not all of the participants, included a slur used against people of Arab descent and others who wear headdresses. Others expressed insensitive remarks about gays.

Abruzzo did not mention the emails in his resignation letter, which was released by Corbett's office. He wrote that he had not been given an opportunity to review any evidence to support the assertions against him but that he did not want the allegations to become "a distraction" for the Corbett administration.

"While I have no recollection of the specific accounts described by the media, I accept full responsibility for any lack of judgment I may have exhibited in 2009," he wrote. "I do not condone that behavior and it is not a reflection of the person or professional that I am."

The letter was Abruzzo's first public comment on the emails.

Abruzzo, 48, started in the attorney general's office in 1996 and advanced to oversee its drug-related prosecutions. When Corbett became governor in 2011, he made Abruzzo one of his deputy chiefs of staff and, later, environmental protection secretary, a Cabinet post.

Noonan, who is directing the manhunt for a fugitive suspected of killing a state trooper and wounding another in an ambush at a northeastern Pennsylvania barracks, has not commented.

The attorney general's office said Noonan received more 300 of the emails, but Corbett said records indicate that "he did not participate in opening, originating, forwarding or replying to any message."

No reason was given for Parno's resignation.

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