HARRISBURG - The special prosecutor hired by Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane to investigate the chain of pornographic emails exchanged among state prosecutors, judges, and others will release his preliminary findings by early next month.
Douglas Gansler said he would issue an "interim report" in the first few days of June - possibly earlier - that will focus on messages sent by judges or other judicial-branch employees from 2008 through 2015 that contained sexually explicit images, offensive jokes, or other objectionable content.
He would not say how many new names, if any, he might make public in connection with the emails, leaving it unclear whether his report will back up Kane's assertion that the messages had exposed a "constitutional crisis" in state government.
He did say his report will identify the judges and judicial employees by name, as well as any employees inside the Attorney General's Office who then forwarded the messages to others.
He said he would not identify employees who merely received the emails, because "there is a clear distinction between those who received emails and ignored them . . . and those who took them and sent them on."
"We are at a point in the investigation where we have enough information that we believe we should make it public," said Gansler, a longtime Maryland prosecutor who most recently headed the Maryland Attorney General's Office.
"The fact that judges and people in the Attorney General's Office were immersed in a culture wherein they thought that sending these types of emails was appropriate is astonishing. . . . We are aware of the importance of getting this out as quickly and efficiently as possible," added Gansler, who said his final report was expected by summer's end.
Kane, a Democrat like Gansler, has decried the offensive and pornographic emails in dramatic terms since she discovered that the computer servers in her office had for years been a hub for swapping them.
In April, she told labor leaders in a speech that the men who had shared in the porn had "horrendous power."
"They have a power that gets into our everyday lives, that can control our finances, that can control our children and our family life," Kane said. "It can control our freedom. That's the power that some of these people exude in Pennsylvania."
Since she first made some of the emails public, the scandal has forced more than a half-dozen people to resign, including former State Supreme Court Justices Seamus McCaffery and J. Michael Eakin, as well as high-ranking members of former Gov. Tom Corbett's administration.
But Kane, too, has come under scrutiny for her handling of the scandal.
Though she discovered the emails in 2014, she has steadfastly refused to make them all public. Her critics say she has only released messages that embarrassed people she perceives as enemies and whom she blames for her legal troubles.
Kane was charged last year with conspiracy, perjury, and other crimes for allegedly leaking confidential grand jury information in a bid to embarrass a foe. Soon after, the state Supreme Court temporarily suspended Kane's law license.
In December, more than a year after making a small batch of the pornographic emails public, Kane hired Gansler to conduct an independent review of the messages, some of which were sent and then forwarded to dozens of recipients within the Attorney General's Office and other law enforcement and judicial and legal circles.
In appointing Gansler, Kane granted him, as she called it, "the sword of prosecutorial powers," including the ability to issue subpoenas and bring criminal charges, if warranted.
Later, though, Gansler said it was unlikely he would bring any criminal charges. He noted that viewing adult pornography had been essentially legalized in the United States.
This week, Gansler said much of the nearly six million messages he and his team had reviewed were "offensive and inappropriate for government employees to be sending to each other . . . but most of it is protected speech."