The allegations that Jerry Sandusky, a former football coach for the Penn State University team, sexually assaulted young boys under the indifferent eye of the Penn State football program captured the nation’s attention.
The defense rested their case after a mere two and a half days of witnesses, as compared to the week of testimony from the prosecution. Most of those witnesses testified as to Sandusky’s good character and selfless nature; however, some attempted to undermine the credibility of key prosecution witnesses like Mike McQueary.
Once the prosecution started to put on its case, the testimony grew more disturbing by the day. Alleged victims took the stand and recalled that the former football coach molested them in his basement and bribed them with candy and gifts to stay quiet.
Colleague Mike McQueary gave chilling testimony of the now infamous shower scene between Sandusky and a young boy. While the defense tried to attack the credibility of the witnesses, the sordid details kept coming out. Jurors were spotted weeping during the emotional testimony of some of the alleged victims.
After 20 hours of deliberation, one sequestered night and two conferences with the judge to review the evidence, the jury returned its verdict: Jerry Sandusky is guilty of sexual abuse of ten young boys he was mentoring through his charity program.
Now that Sandusky has been tried and convicted of 45 counts of sexual assault against Pennsylvania children, the integrity that once defined the Penn State football program is once again in doubt.
Jerry Sandusky was sentenced Tuesday, October 9, 2012, to at least 30 years in prison — effectively a life sentence. During the sentencing hearing Sandusky continued to profess his innocence while three of his victims spoke about the devastation caused by his attacks.
According to defense attorney Joe Amendola, Sandusky will appeal his conviction by arguing that the prosecution rushed into trial, and the defense did not have adequate time to prepare.
Sandusky was charged with 52 counts of sexual abuse involving seventeen alleged child victims over the course of fifteen years. He was found guilty of 45 counts of abuse. His sentenced is yet to be determined, but it is certain he will spend the rest of his life in prison.
Potential penalties Sandusky faces at sentencing
(AP) These are Key elements involved, drawn largely from an analysis by the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing:
— Sandusky was convicted of 10 sets of crimes involving 10 victims. Cleland may decide to impose sets of sentences based on each of those criminal episodes, and if so, some of the charges for each episode could be merged for sentencing purposes and not affect how many years he will get.
— The most serious offenses are eight counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, a crime that involves oral or anal sex. Depending when the offenses occurred, they carry mandatory minimum sentences of five or 10 years.
— His other convictions are seven counts of indecent assault, 10 counts of corruption of minors, 10 counts of endangering the welfare of children, nine counts of unlawful contact with minors and one count of attempted indecent assault.
— The statutory minimum sentences for those 45 counts add up to 220 years; the maximum sentences add up to 440 years, but it’s highly unlikely the judge would issue anything like a 220- to 440-year term. In theory, the lowest sentence he could receive is 10 years, where one of the mandatory minimums is imposed and all other counts run concurrent with it.
— There are also “mitigated,” ”standard” and “aggravated” ranges for each count. For example, for the first count, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse involving Victim 1, the mitigated range is 36 months, the standard range is 48 to 66 months, and the aggravated range is 78 months, but the mandatory minimum is 10 years. If Cleland departs from the standard range for any count, he has to state his reason on the record.
— Cleland will determine which counts, if any, run concurrent with one another and which run consecutively.
— If Sandusky gets at least two years, he will serve his sentence in state prison. Otherwise, he would serve time in a county jail.
09/14/2013: Superior Court will hear oral argument Tuesday in Wilkes-Barre as former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky seeks a new trial. Here’s what his lawyer and the attorney general’s office will debate:
PROMPT COMPLAINT: Did the judge make a mistake when he did not give jurors a defense-requested instruction about the failure of some of the victims to report their abuse in promptly?
SANDUSKY TESTIMONY: Did the prosecutor cross a line when he referred to a Sandusky TV interview, raising questions in jurors’ minds about why he did not take the stand in his own defense?
SPEEDY TRIAL: Did Sandusky’s lawyers have ample time to prepare for trial, given that prosecutors turned over about 9,000 pages of documents?
CHARACTER EVIDENCE: Did the judge err when he told jurors that character evidence should be weighed along with the other evidence in the case?
The Freeh Report
07/12/2012: to what the university knew about the scandal and whether it was covered up. After eight months, the Freeh Report is complete.
The 267-page report found that Penn State officials, including former university president Graham Spanier, former head coach Joe Paterno, former athletics director Tim Curley and former university vice-president Gary Schultz knew of Sandusky’s child sex abuse as early as 2001. In February 2001, Mike McQueary reported witnessing Jerry Sandusky with one of the children from his Second Mile charity in the Penn State locker room showers.
According to the report, which was the result of conducting 430 interviews and reviewing 3.5 million emails, there was critical written correspondence showing that on February 25, 2001, Curley and Schultz were prepared to report Sandusky to the authorities based on McQueary’s accusations. However, two days later, on February 27, 2001, they changed their plan. Between the decision to turn him in and their decision not to, there was a February 26, 2001 meeting between Curley and Joe Paterno.
Based on those facts, it appears as though Joe Paterno himself was an integral part of the University’s decision to conceal the reports of Sandusky’s abuse. As one of the most powerful men on campus, and as one person who certainly could have put an end to Sandusky’s outrageous exploitation of youngsters, his affirmative decision not to act is conscience-shocking.
One of the most damning examples of Paterno’s power and influence came from an interview with a janitor, who told investigators he did not report witnessing Sandusky performing oral sex on a young boy because it “would have been like going against the President of the United States in my eyes . . . I know Paterno had too much power, if he wanted to get rid of someone, I would have been gone.”
The janitor then told investigators “football runs this University,” and that he believed if he had spoken up, the University would have closed ranks to protect the football program.
The report noted that in order to avoid bad publicity for the university’s famed football program, critical information about Sandusky’s behavior was concealed — information that could have protected the children he worked with through his Second Mile charity. Avoiding bad press was a critical concern for Penn State. If fans were to turn their backs on the football program, that financial loss would have negative implications for the rest of the school.
Basically, the most powerful men at Penn State failed to act for over a decade, showing total disregard for the many children Sandusky victimized over the years. They knew about the abuse and did not stop it.
The Freeh Report also found that the Penn State Board of Trustees knew of the abuse and failed to hold the most senior leaders of the university responsible for the victimization of at-risk children. The Freeh Report recommends that the university work to create a culture of accountability and transparency, particularly with respect to the athletics organization and that it hire a chief compliance officer to protect against further lawlessness.
The university promised full disclosure. Investigators have sifted through thousands of emails and other internal documents to find out who was involved and how much they knew.
The report findings will have an enormous impact on the upcoming criminal trials of Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, who are both facing charges of lying to a Pennsylvania grand jury about how much they knew. Both men testified that they did not know about Sandusky’s behavior, testimony that has now been undermined by the Freeh Report findings. Spanier has publicly supported both Curley and Schultz, meaning that once again, his credibility is under fire.
The allegations that Jerry Sandusky, a former football coach for the Pennsylvania State University football team, sexually assaulted young boys under the indifferent eye of the Penn State football program captured the nation’s attention for months. Penn State’s football program was not just known for their winning record but also for the sport’s father-figure and moral compass in head coach Joe “Joe Pa” Paterno.
Sandusky met his victims through a children’s charity he ran, The Second Mile. The prosecution brought forth evidence that ten children were victimized by Sandusky. After the trial was over, lawyers for Jerry Sandusky’s adopted son, Matt Sandusky, revealed that he was also abused by Sandusky. A civil lawsuit against The Second Mile charity, Sandusky and Penn State identifies still more victims.
Penn State University and the football coaching staff, including Penn State football legend, head coach Joe Paterno, came under intense scrutiny, as speculation swarms that the football program covered up the decades of abuse to preserve the reputation, strength and influence of their athletics program.
Several months have passed since allegations surfaced that Sandusky sexually assaulted these children, and its fair to say that Happy Valley may never be the same again. But it’s important to remember what Happy Valley, Pennsylvania was like before these allegations.
This was a college town where football was a religion, where “Joe Pa” was a moral compass and the “Sandusky Blitz” was an ice cream flavor at a local shop. The reporter who broke the story, Sara Ganim, spent months investigating the rumors of child sex abuse, and she met with more slammed doors in her face and outright lies than with credible information. The Penn State football legacy was so strong, so powerful, that even the worst kinds of rumor could not tarnish it.
Now Happy Valley is a different kind of place; it’s jaded, wary and ready to be out of the public eye.
Penn State lost the beloved patriarch of college football, “Joe Pa,” to lung cancer while under the specter of the investigation. Some believe he died of a broken heart after essentially being forced to step down from his position as head football coach.
The Penn State bookstore, which once sold t-shirts with graphics reading “What Happens in Happy Valley Stays in Happy Valley,” has since removed those shirts from their merchandise.
The day before the trial began, Judge John Cleland laid down some ground rules for the parties, based on various pre-trial motions. First, he ruled that the alleged victims who are now adults must testify using their real names, not pseudonyms. The victims who are still minors will have their identities shielded. Secondly, Judge Cleland did not require the prosecutors to turn over information they had collected regarding the jury pool to the defense team. Finally, he instructed media that they would not be permitted to tweet, live-blog or update the case from their mobile devices while in the courtroom.
Sandusky was sentenced on October 9, 2012, to at least 30 years in prison — which at 68-years-old effectively amounts to a life sentence. At the sentencing hearing Sandusky continued to defiantly profess his innocence: “In my heart I know I did not do these … disgusting acts.” He questioned the credibility of his accusers and claimed the young boys’ tales of shower and hotel room assaults were “joined by a well-orchestrated effort of the media, investigators, the system, Penn State, psychologists, civil attorneys, and other accusers.”
Three of the victims spoke at the sentencing hearing, some fighting back tears, as they told the court about the devastation they suffered as a result of Sandusky’s attacks. One victim looked at Sandusky and told him “I am troubled with flashbacks of his naked body, something that will never be erased from my memory.”
“The tragedy of this crime is that it’s a story of betrayal. The most obvious aspect is your betrayal of 10 children,” Judge Cleland told Sandusky. “I’m not going to sentence you to centuries in prison, although the law will permit that.” Still, Cleland said, he expected Sandusky to die in prison.
Jerry Sandusky: Former assistant football coach and founder of The Second Mile charity for children, convicted of molesting 10 boys over 15 years. Arrested in November 2011 after a long investigation by a statewide grand jury. He had been a successful defensive coach for the Nittany Lions for 30 years, and prosecutors say he used his fame in the community and his charity to attract victims. He is charged with involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, indecent assault of a young child, unlawful contact with minors, corruption of minors, child endangerment. Sandusky was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison, effectively a life term.
Joe Paterno: Longtime football coach and was told by McQueary in 2001 that he saw Sandusky and a boy in a shower on campus and, in turn, told Curley and Schultz. Penn State’s head coach from 1966 through 2011 and major college football’s winningest coach when he retired, Paterno offered to resign at the end of the 2011 season, but trustees ousted him for “failure of leadership” surrounding allegations about Sandusky. He died of lung cancer in January 2012. Freeh said Paterno “was an integral part of this active decision to conceal” the abuse and that his firing was justified. The NCAA has since vacated 111 of Paterno’s 409 career wins as part of a package of scandal-related sanctions against the football team and university. Paterno’s family continues to maintain that he didn’t know Sandusky was a pedophile and didn’t cover up anything.
Gary Schultz: Penn State vice president for business and finance, now retired. Schultz told the grand jury that Paterno and McQueary reported the 2001 shower incident “in a very general way” but did not provide details. He said he believed Sandusky and the boy were “horsing around” but that no criminal activity occurred. He is charged with perjury, child endangerment, conspiracy, obstruction, failure to report suspected child abuse. He denies the allegations.
Graham Spanier: Penn State’s longtime president, he was forced out by university trustees after Sandusky’s arrest but remains a tenured faculty member currently on administrative leave. An investigation led by ex-FBI director Louis Freeh concluded that Spanier failed in his duties as president by not informing trustees about the allegations against Sandusky or the subsequent grand jury probe. Spanier told investigators he wasn’t notified of any criminal behavior by Sandusky during his 16 years as president. Spanier initiated a lawsuit this month against Freeh. Legal paperwork filed in Centre County, where Penn State is located, disclosed little about the nature of his claims but a box was checked off on a court system form that described the case as “slander/libel/defamation.” He is charged with perjury, child endangerment, conspiracy, obstruction, failure to report suspected child abuse. He denies the allegations.
Tim Curley: Penn State’s athletic director, on leave to complete the last year of his contract. Background: Curley fielded McQueary’s complaint about Sandusky in a team shower with a boy in early 2001 and told a grand jury he instructed Sandusky not to be inside university athletic facilities with any young people but said he did not think that anything criminal had occurred.
Charges: Child endangerment, conspiracy, obstruction. He denies the allegations.
Mike McQueary: Since-fired assistant football coach. He was a graduate assistant in 2001 when he says he witnessed Sandusky pressing himself against a boy in a team shower. McQueary took his complaint to coach Joe Paterno, who alerted university administrators. He testified at Sandusky’s trial that he had “no doubt” Sandusky was molesting the boy. He has since filed a whistle-blower lawsuit against the university, claiming he lost his $140,000-a-year job and was defamed by administrators.
Louis Freeh: Leader of an investigative team tasked with determining how the abuse occurred and recommending changes, as well as reviewing Penn State’s handling of sex crimes and misconduct accusations. A former federal judge who spent eight years as director of the FBI, Freeh was hired by Penn State’s board of trustees in June 2012. His firm produced a 267-page report that said Spanier, Paterno, Curley and Schultz, in order to avoid negative publicity for the school, “repeatedly concealed critical facts” and “failed to protect against a child sexual predator harming children for over a decade.”
Tom Corbett: Now the governor of Pennsylvania, he was attorney general when the investigation into Sandusky was launched. Corbett is an ex-officio member of the Penn State Board of Trustees, although he did not actively participate until after Sandusky was charged.
Judge John Cleland: Described by local lawyers as one of the best judges in the state, Judge Cleland, with his reputation for fairness and a calm, controlled demeanor, is the judge hearing the case. If anyone can keep the trial from devolving into a circus, Judge Cleland can.
Joe Amendola: The defense attorney representing Jerry Sandusky, who, like his client, reportedly has had sexual encounters with a minor. In Amendola’s case, The Daily reported that he impregnated a 17-year-old former client.
Karl Rominger: Another member of Sandusky’s legal team, who infamously stated that part of working with underprivileged children is teaching them hygiene by showering with them.
Joe McGettigan: The prosecuting attorney is known for his feisty, fast-talking courtroom style and aggressive approach. He’s frequently seen walking into court with his sunglasses on and always lights up a cigarette the moment he leaves the courthouse.
Victim 1: Victim one tearfully testified that Jerry Sandusky kissed, fondled and performed oral sex on him when he was elementary school aged. Most of the acts took place at Sandusky’s home, he testified, where Sandusky would tell Victim 1 it was his “turn” to perform oral sex acts. These “sleepovers” at Sandusky’s house eventually caused behavioral problems for the boy. Sandusky faces six felony charges related to Victim 1, including involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with juvenile, indecent contact with juvenile, compelling juvenile to perform oral sex upon him, corrupting the morals of this minor and endangering the welfare of Victim 1.
Victim 2: Victim 2 was also allegedly under the age of 16 at the time of the sexual offenses against him. Jerry Sandusky is accused of five offenses involving Victim 2, namely, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a juvenile, indecent assault upon a juvenile, unlawful contact with a minor, corrupting the morals of a minor and endangering the welfare of a minor.
Victim 3: The third alleged victim, a ten year-old-when he met Sandusky, testified that he felt like Sandusky was a member of the family. As a child he didn’t report incidents of Sandusky sharing a bed with him because he trusted him. “He was like a father to me,” he testified in an emotional hearing. He testified that Sandusky would tickle him, wrestle in bed and touch his penis, but that there was no oral sex. Prosecutors are alleging that Sandusky committed four acts of sexual assault against Victim 3, including indecent assault against a minor, unlawful contact with a minor, corruption of a minor and endangering the welfare of a minor.
Victim 4: Victim 4’s testimony was among the most chilling accounts. According to his statements, Sandusky began making sexual advances toward him when he was 13 years old. What started as horseplay in the showers after football practice turned into penetrative sexual encounters, oral and anal rape three times a week for three years. Sandusky is looking at eight felony charges for his conduct with Victim 4, which would certainly land him in prison for life. Offenses Jerry Sandusky allegedly committed against Victim 4 include involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a juvenile, compelling a juvenile to perform oral sex upon him, aggravated indecent assault against a juvenile by penetrating Victim 4′s anus, indecent contact, unlawful contact with a minor, corruption of a minor and endangering the welfare of a minor.
Victim 5: Victim 5 was a ten-year-old when, he alleges, Jerry Sandusky exposed himself to the boy and forced him to touch Sandusky’s penis in the showers after football practice. The four felony charges against Victim 5 include indecent assault, unlawful contact with a minor, corruption of a minor and endangering the welfare of a minor.
Victim 6: Although Victim 6’s mother reported to police that Jerry Sandusky showered with her son in 1998, Sandusky’s sexual relationship with this witness allegedly continued until 2010. Victim 6 testified that Sandusky would come up behind him, hug him tightly and say, “I’m going to squeeze your guts out.” Jerry Sandusky allegedly committed four felony counts against Victim 6 including indecent assault, unlawful contact, corruption of a minor and endangering the welfare of minor.
Victim 7: Victim 7 testified that when he was 10 years old, Jerry Sandusky often showered with him and invited him to sleepovers at his house. Sandusky would touch his nipples and under his shorts, the witness testified. Sandusky showered him with gifts, including 14 years of tickets to Penn State football games, and to continue those rewards, Victim 7 kept quiet. Victim 7 even cited Sandusky in his college applications as an adult who had impacted his life in a positive way. Jerry Sandusky faces four felony counts against Victim 7, including criminal attempt to commit indecent assault, unlawful contact, corruption a of minor and endangering the welfare of minor.
Victim 8: Victim 8 is the mystery witness. Prosecutors have not been able to identify this person, however, a few witnesses have testified that they observed illicit conduct between Sandusky and this unknown boy. Jerry Sandusky faces five felony counts against Victim 8, including involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a juvenile by performing oral sex on Victim 8, unlawful contact with the minor, indecent assault upon a minor, corruption of a minor and endangering the welfare of a minor.
Victim 9: Victim 9 told a shocked courtroom that when he was a child being sexually assaulted in the basement of the Sandusky home, he once screamed so Dottie Sandusky, Jerry’s wife, could hear. There was no response. The basement was soundproof. Victim 9 said he was anally raped by Sandusky several times and that he never spoke out because Sandusky was an important man in the community. “Who’s going to believe a kid?” he asked. Jerry Sandusky faces five felony counts against Victim 9 and one misdemeanor count, including involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, indecent assault, unlawful contact with minors, corruption of minors and endangering welfare of children.Interestingly, Victim 9 is the only alleged victim who testified that the sexual contact was forced. He also mentioned a luxury car apparently belonging to Sandusky that no one had ever heard of or seen before. Of the testifying witnesses, his is the only testimony that appears to deviate from the patterns established by the other alleged victims.
Victim 10: Victim 10 recalled under oath in a quiet, almost emotionless monotone, that Sandusky would pin him down in the showers, performing oral sex on him, and then would threaten him that he would never see his family again if he told anyone. Jerry Sandusky faces five felony counts against Victim 9 and one misdemeanor count, including involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, indecent assault, unlawful contact with minors, corruption of minors and endangering welfare of children.
More Charges For New Suspects In Penn State
Jerry Sandusky Sentenced To At Least 30 Years
Jerry Sandusky Jailhouse Recording
More Sandusky Scandal And Fallout
Tape: Sandusky’s Adopted Son Talks Of Sex Abuse
Jerry Sandusky Arrested On New Sex Abuse Charges
October 09, 2012: While a Pennsylvania judge was handing down a sentence of 30-60 years in state prison, Jerry Sandusky seemed bewildered and defiant. He gave a 15-minute long statement in court, which some have likened to a pre-game motivational speech, painting the picture of his life in prison and declaring firmly that he was not guilty of the sex abuse convictions. Prosecutor Joe McGettigan later described the speech as an act of denial.
From a lawyer’s perspective, Sandusky’s sentence was handed down pretty much as expected. The substantial prison time ensures that Sandusky will die incarcerated, because he cannot under any circumstances be released before 30 years. The judge certainly could have “thrown the book” at Sandusky by sentencing him to many hundred of years in prison, but the result would have been the same no matter what: Sandusky will die in prison.
August 20, 2012: Rumors are flying that the Jerry Sandusky scandal has now come under a federal investigation, with new victims and new witnesses coming on to the scene. If federal law enforcement can show that Sandusky’s illegal conduct occurred across state lines, or somehow used the U.S. Mail, he might face federal allegations of the same sort that plagued him in Pennsylvania.
If the Department of Justice does choose to prosecute Sandusky in federal court, it’s hard to say what they hope to gain. Sandusky will already spend the rest of his life in prison. If indicted, he will have to spend a fortune in mounting another legal defense — money that he could have spent paying restitution to his victims.
July 12, 2012: The Freeh Report, which found that PSU officials failed in their duty to protect the children from the Second Mile Charity, who were “lured” to the Penn State campus with the promise of football games only to be victimized by Jerry Sandusky, will open the floodgates to civil litigation.
The university itself, as well as the individuals named in the report — former Penn State president Graham Spanier, former vice-president Gary Schultz, former athletics director Tim Curley, and the estate of former head coach Joe Paterno — are all eligible for civil lawsuits by the victims of sex abuse and their families. They can be sued for not acting to protect the children when they had knowledge that the children were in danger.
The Freeh Report also will affect the criminal trials of Schultz and Curley, both of whom are accused of lying to a Pennsylvania Grand Jury. Both men testified that they did not know of the Sandusky sex abuse — statements now proven false by the Freeh Report.
The story from the janitor is especially disturbing. If that was the culture on the lower rungs of the college staff, what does that say for the university heads? It is clear that the football program was allowed to run unchecked, as long as it kept bringing in good publicity — and lots of money — for the school.
Since the new recommendations from the Freeh Report include a total overhaul of the reporting system, now the Clery Act — named for a Lehigh University student found murdered and sodomized in her dorm room — may actually have some teeth. The 1990 law was passed to protect university students from violence, and it requires annual security reports and crime logs from college police. It requires that any report of on-campus crime be made public — steps that certainly were not taken to protect the victims of Sandusky’s abuse.
At the heart of this entire case is that parents and families should be able to send their children to college knowing that they will be safe. Whether they are university students or children who are using the college campus through another program such as Second Mile, university campuses should be a safe space for education and personal growth, not places where child predators and other criminals are hiding in plain sight.
The death of Penn State’s head football coach Joe “Joe Pa” Paterno on January 22, 2012 put a serious damper on the drama of the Sandusky court proceedings. Without Paterno’s testimony as to what — and how much — he knew about Sandusky’s conduct, the trial was be far more streamlined and less high-profile because “Joe Pa” was the emblem of Penn State’s football program in a way that Schultz and Curley simply will never be. Come on, there’s no statue of Tim Curley on campus, right?
Whether “Joe Pa” died of a broken heart, as some college football fans have speculated, is not for us to say, but the stress of being involved in criminal investigation is nothing to sneeze at. However, “Joe Pa” was never going to be a main witness for the prosecution. He simply didn’t have the kind of first-hand knowledge that McQueary did, and if Paterno’s grand jury transcript is any clue, his testimony would have largely been hearsay.
Sandusky’s defense team chose to waive preliminary hearing last December, a decision that might seem like a major capitulation by the defendant. We at Wild About Trial think this was the best decision. If the case had gone to prelim, the media circus would have rivaled that of the Conrad Murray trial, and every gory, gruesome detail of the assaults against these children would have been paraded out for all to see. After the whole nation watched that, no jury in the world would be able to be impartial when the case got to trial — everyone would be out for blood.
Every defendant has a right to waive prelim, and this was one example of using that right wisely. In some cases, preliminary hearings can be a good way to collect evidence and get a thorough picture of a case, but when there’s already been a grand jury hearing and a civil suit against Sandusky, the facts are already out in the open. The defense won’t learn anything they could not have read in a newspaper by taking the case to a preliminary hearing, and meanwhile they would be putting the last nail in Sandusky’s conviction coffin.
After a moving speech about the importance of jury service, Judge Cleland got down to business. He stuck to a tight schedule, and a jury was selected pretty quickly, given the severity of the charges, the number of anticipated witnesses and the media attention to the case. That definitely sets the tone for a no-nonsense trial.
Nearly every juror selected has some connection with Penn State, and many said that they personally knew someone on the witness list. Judge Cleland was adamant that he would not let that stand in the way of picking a jury; after all, nearly everyone in town has a connection with the college — a jury of Penn State people was unavoidable.
Those personal connections, however, could make things tougher for Sandusky as a defendant. Penn State employees, alums and fans are naturally outraged at the negative publicity toward the college in the wake of the accusations against Sandusky. Sandusky single-handedly marred Penn State’s reputation in a deep and profound way, and many jurors may be angry at him.
On the other hand, there could be some Penn State-affiliated jurors who will always support the home team, even when they’re down. Some potential jurors even showed up to jury selection wearing Penn State attire, a possible sign that they would continue to stand with the college.
One strategy the defense might take, given a jury of people somehow affiliated with Penn State, is to call university leaders to testify to Sandusky’s character. If a witness is highly respected in the Penn State community, jurors may have a lot of confidence in that testimony.
Sandusky’s Defense Strategy
Ultimately, Jerry Sandusky is putting all of his eggs in the Happy Valley basket, so to speak. He is counting on one or two jurors putting the interests of Penn State, the university and the football program, above the interests of justice. And because so many of these jurors have strong connections to Penn State, whether alums, employees or fans, it is entirely possible that one or two of these jurors may do precisely that. At this point — with the trial at a close and all the evidence on the table — that is really Sandusky’s only remaining hope.
Jerry Sandusky’s trial moved along much faster than anyone could have predicted, especially for such a high-profile case. In large part, this was due to Judge Cleland’s iron fist, as he makes sure that neither side gets sidetracked with theatrics. The emotional, damning testimony of three alleged victims and former Penn State graduate assistant Mike McQueary appears to leave few options for Jerry Sandusky’s legal defense.
As the remaining alleged victims took the stand, the defense tried to hone in on inconsistencies in their stories — changes in dates, times and physical observations. Victim #7’s testimony was even met with questions by the defense about an unrelated 23-month prison term he served — an apparent effort to discredit him based on a criminal past. The defense has also asked the witnesses if they stand to make money from their testimony, for example, from the civil lawsuit against Sandusky’s charity, The Second Mile.
Despite the defense’s persistence and the claim that over 100 witnesses will testify in defense of the so-called “tickle-monster,” the alleged victims’ accounts are consistent, credible and likely to hold up to the jury. Their testimony, taken as a whole, shows a clear pattern of abuse — everything from the alleged victims’ ages, the locations of the crimes, the activities leading up to the sexual contact and how he would then cut ties has been remarkably similar.
Sandusky’s defense team may, if Judge Cleland permits it, present evidence that he has Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD). However, HPD, a dramatic personality disorder in which the afflicted person holds distorted views of him or herself, is not normally linked to sexual abuse. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, an expert publication, is even being revised to possibly remove this disorder altogether.
Sandusky faces a maximum of 460 years if convicted, and without the mental health card, he has little left in his legal arsenal. In a trial with this many witnesses and victims coming forward, the defense will continue to have a difficult time not only disputing claims but also swaying a judge and jury.
Why Sandusky Did Not Testify
Now that the trial has come to a close, it has come out that if Sandusky had testified, the prosecution would have called his adopted son, Matt Sandusky, to testify that his father abused him when he was growing up. The tactical decision to keep Sandusky off the witness stand was truly the only possible move for the defense, given that bombshell.
There was a 40-minute behind closed doors session in judge’s chambers on Wednesday, where we believe the judge fully informed Sandusky of his right to testify in his defense and the potential problems he would face if he did so. It was probably during this session that prosecutors informed the defense of rebuttal witness Matt Sandusky, and the decision to keep Sandusky off the stand was made.
Sandusky is not a particularly chatty guy to begin with — in media appearances his statements are often punctuated with folksy expressions like “gee,” and he has trouble looking people straight in the eye — and there’s no way he would have made a strong, confident impression on the witness stand. And once McGettigan, the prosecutor, gets going on cross-examination, it would only be a matter of time before he trapped Sandusky into incriminating himself, even accidentally.
It’s impossible to know precisely what went on inside the jury room as deliberations began, but in all likelihood, the jurors began with a straw poll. It seems that most, if not all, of the jurors were predisposed to convict Jerry Sandusky from the outset of jury deliberations, but they took their responsibility seriously. They seem to have taken their time going over each charge and the jury instructions they asked for clarification on various points of law to make the best decision.
Of course, the idea of being sequestered over the weekend was probably weighing on their minds, as well.