STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – The former head of Penn State University’s police department who oversaw a 1998 investigation of possible sexual abuse by former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky once lived three houses down from the defensive coordinator, property records show.

Chief Thomas Harmon took over leading the department just one month before a detective began looking into whether the chief’s former neighbor sexually abused two 11-year-old boys in a campus shower. Harmon later ordered the case closed when the Centre County, Pa., district attorney decided not to file criminal charges.

Sandusky retired from Penn State a year later.

The personal connection between the chief and the architect of “Linebacker U” now has lawyers for Sandusky’s alleged victims questioning what role those ties may have played in closing the 1998 investigation, which they argue was a missed opportunity to stop Sandusky from assaulting more children.

“It reflects how incestuous the cast of characters are,” said Michael Boni, who represents the person identified as Victim 1 in the Pennsylvania grand jury report released last month.

Sandusky faces more than 50 charges of child sex abuse of 10 young boys over a 15-year span. Most of the assaults detailed in two grand jury reports allegedly occurred after the 1998 investigation was closed.

Sandusky has steadfastly maintained his innocence. Harmon, now retired, declined to speak about the investigation.