Sandusky case still on track after meeting with judge


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Just a week before jury selection is set to begin in his sexual abuse case, former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky met in a closed-door meeting with his attorney, prosecutors and the judge presiding over his case.

The meeting Tuesday afternoon, which lasted for nearly three hours, was held on the eve of a pretrial conference scheduled for today.

It is unclear what was discussed at the hearing, but the Centre County court administrator said afterward that today's proceeding is still scheduled for this afternoon, said James Koval, a spokesman with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

"There's a lot of speculation that a plea [deal] is going on," he said. "I have no indication of that at this point."

The meeting set for today was scheduled weeks ago to wrap up any outstanding issues or motions still pending in the case.

Late Tuesday, a number of motions were filed by attorneys representing four of the alleged victims in the case seeking anonymity for their clients during the trial. It is likely that McKean County Common Pleas Senior Judge John M. Cleland will address those.

In addition, the defense still has outstanding motions to dismiss all the counts based on a lack of specificity in the charges.

Defense attorney Joseph Amendola previously said his client would not be attending the hearing, but it is unclear if that is still the case.

Wes Oliver, a law professor who will be joining the faculty at Duquesne University in the fall and has been following the Sandusky case, said it is possible a plea bargain was being discussed.

But he also said it could be something far less interesting, such as the judge going over some housekeeping matters with Mr. Sandusky -- like making sure he agrees with the course of action his defense team has taken.

"It could mean anything," he said. "If, in fact, it is a plea, we'll know [today] at 1:30."

Mr. Oliver said he would not be surprised if it is a plea, given what he called recently revealed "weaknesses" in the state Attorney General's case.

"From the prosecution side, there are some concerns with a number of these cases," he said.

Earlier this month, the attorney general's office amended the complaint against Mr. Sandusky by changing the date of one of his alleged offenses by 13 months.

The prosecution has still not been able to identify two of the alleged victims in the grand jury presentment, and it has been revealed that the person identified as Victim No. 1 made false allegations once before.

"The new weaknesses in the case could lead to a sentence the prosecution would be willing to accept," Mr. Oliver said.

He also alluded to the request for anonymity from some of the victims as a possible problem in the case, as well.

The motions filed late Tuesday came from attorneys representing alleged Victims No. 3, 4, 5 and 7. They ask the court for permission to testify either using pseudonyms or by withholding their names entirely.

"The specific circumstances surrounding this case, including the immense, worldwide media attention and the nature of the allegations will lead to serious embarrassment and humiliation of the alleged victims," wrote Benjamin Andreozzi, an attorney representing the person identified as Victim No. 4.

He also wrote that the man's psychologist has "serious concerns that the impact of disclosing" his name in open court will have a negative effect upon his well being.

Attorneys for alleged Victims No. 3 and 7 wrote that "Disclosure of their [identities] could subject them to ridicule and harassment in their communities, subject them to the intense scrutiny of the national and local media and could potentially expose them to [physical] harm."

Andrew Shubin and Justine Andronici also argue that public disclosure of those names will increase the risk that other child victims will not report similar types of crimes.

education - state

Paula Reed Ward: pward@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2620.


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