Sandusky's attorney sees a rush to judgment

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BELLEFONTE, Pa. -- Joseph Amendola took his time to repeat a question: What did he think of the way Judge John Cleland dismissed a line in Jerry Sandusky's statement in which the convicted child sexual abuser described a conspiracy enacted to bring him down?

Mr. Amendola, the lead attorney representing Sandusky at his Tuesday sentencing, answered with a charged, five-minute diatribe outlining his own conspiracy theory. At the center, he suggested after the sentencing when he appeared before the media's assembled microphones and cameras, was bad blood between the commonwealth and Penn State University, leading to what he considered a suspiciously long investigation, a snowballing number of charges that would elicit hasty decisions regarding university personnel and a lack of sufficient time to prepare his case.

"I just think there were so many different parties involved," Mr. Amendola said.

He said the university fired coach Joe Paterno and accepted the resignation of then-president Graham Spanier without doing an investigation.

"The questions beg to be answered, and I've said this before: Why?" he asked. "Why did they do it? Why did they rush to judgment?"

Prosecutor Joseph McGettigan dismissed Mr. Amendola's argument.

"I congratulate him on his occasional forays into the proximity of reality," he said.

McGettigan, senior deputy attorney general, suggested that the obstacles that might have prevented Mr. Amendola from presenting a successful case were less webs of conspiracy than the attorney's penchant for schmoozing with the media.

In a statement, Linda Kelly, the state attorney general, rejected the idea of a conspiracy.

"Some have said this case took too long. In saying this, they criticize the prosecutors and investigators, and the former attorney general and now governor of the commonwealth," she said. "This criticism is baseless."

She said that although the case was largely done by the time she became involved, "it was apparent to me that the use of the grand jury was an appropriate means of investigating the matter, that considerable time and effort had been expended to move the investigation to the point where it was ready to be charged, and that all of the dedicated professionals involved wanted only a just outcome in the case. There was no other agenda."

Mr. Amendola said the push to get the case over with constituted an agenda.

"Everybody wants to move on, and that's wonderful," Mr. Amendola said. "We all want to move on from situations in our lives. That's great. But not at the expense of due process, not at the expense of someone's rights."

Ms. Kelly rejected that claim. "Because of their work on this case, Jerry Sandusky has been held responsible for his crimes, so it is well past the time to set these criticisms and spurious claims aside and to focus instead on the lessons that can be learned from this case. ...

"Whoever you are, whatever your station in life -- please have the courage and the decency to do the right thing if you suspect that a child is being abused."

education - state - psusports

Mark Dent: mdent@post-gazette.com, Twitter @mdent05.


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