Adopted son alleges abuse, was set to testify for prosecution
June 22, 2012 9:38 PM
Nabil K. Mark/Centre Daily Times
Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky leaves the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte on Thursday. Jurors in Sandusky's child sexual abuse case return to deliberations this morning.
Jerry Sandusky leaves the Centre County Courthouse after the jury began deliberating his case Thursday afternoon.
By Jon Schmitz and Mark Dent Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
BELLEFONTE, Pa. -- After a prosecutor called Jerry Sandusky a sexual predator who preyed on vulnerable children, and his defense lawyer denounced the accusations as a series of lies, the jury in the case deliberated until about 9:30 p.m. Thursday without reaching a verdict.
The jury will resume deliberations at 9 a.m. today in the Centre County Courthouse.
After the jurors began their deliberations, one of Mr. Sandusky's adopted sons, Matt Sandusky, issued a statement Thursday saying his father had abused him. The younger Mr. Sandusky, 33, was willing to testify for the prosecution at the trial, his attorneys said in a statement that didn't specify the alleged abuse.
Victim attorney, trial observer comment on closing arguments
Jury deliberations in the Jerry Sandusky trial began after closing arguments. An attorney representing one of the victims and a Bellefonte resident who observed the trial weighed in with their thoughts. (Video by Brian Batko; 6/21/2012)
Jerry Sandusky's fate now in hands of jury
The PG's Jon Schmitz reports on the closing arguments of the defense and prosecution teams in the Jerry Sandusky trial. The case was turned over to the jury today. (Video by Brian Batko and Bob Donaldson; 6/21/2012)
The jury got the case shortly after 1 p.m., after lead prosecutor Joseph McGettigan III and defense lawyer Joe Amendola made their final arguments.
Mr. Sandusky, 68, former Penn State University assistant football coach, is charged with 48 counts of abusing children, including nine counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse that each carry a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.
In his closing argument, Mr. McGettigan, senior deputy attorney general, called Mr. Sandusky a "serial predatory pedophile" who preyed on vulnerable children.
He referenced Mr. Sandusky's interview with NBC's Bob Costas shortly after he was charged, zeroing in on his halting response when Mr. Costas asked him if he was sexually attracted to boys. Mr. Sandusky repeated the question, paused and then said he enjoyed the company of young people before denying a sexual attraction.
Most people would respond automatically and forcefully if someone asked them about criminality, the prosecutor said.
He also focused on Victim 2, the boy who former Penn State University graduate assistant Mike McQueary said he saw being assaulted by Mr. Sandusky in a locker room shower and whose identity has not been determined. Mr. Sandusky knows who it was and hasn't divulged it, he said.
"He had complete capacity to exonerate himself. Did he provide that name? Certainly not to Bob Costas. He forgot that," Mr. McGettigan said.
He mentioned Dottie Sandusky's answer to a question at the end of her testimony about why all of the accusers would lie. Ms. Sandusky, wife of the defendant, testified that she didn't know why. "The truthful answer would have been 'I know they're not lying,' " the prosecutor said.
"You can see the full spectrum of predatory pedophile behavior" from the eight accusers' testimony, he said. It went to "full bloom" with anal and oral sex with three of the boys, Mr. McGettigan said. He said Mr. Sandusky targeted fatherless boys in programs run by his charity, The Second Mile.
"Reaching out to those who need the most help? He was preying on those who were most vulnerable," Mr. McGettigan said.
Stepping away from the jury box where he had been speaking for slightly more than an hour, Mr. McGettigan took a spot next to Mr. Sandusky and concluded his closing argument by saying, "He molested and abused and hurt these children horribly. He knows he did it, and you know he did it. Give him the justice he really deserves. Find him guilty of everything."
Mr. Amendola argued that the sex abuse allegations against Jerry Sandusky were fabrications, coaxed from alleged victims by overzealous investigators and money-hungry lawyers.
"In this case, because of this man's reputation and what was at stake, they went after him," Mr. Amendola said.
In his 72-minute closing argument, he castigated police for repeatedly questioning would-be accusers until they embellished their stories, and lawyers and accusers who he said were after a big payday from civil lawsuits that would be enhanced if Mr. Sandusky is found guilty. Mr. McGettigan later said those assertions collided -- that if accusers were so hungry for money, they wouldn't have had to be coaxed into telling their stories.
"On November 5 of last year, Mr. Sandusky's world came to an end," Mr. Amendola said of the day charges were announced by the state attorney general's office. "Mrs. Sandusky's world came to an end. Mr. Sandusky's children's world came to an end."
He said there was virtually no physical or corroborating evidence to support the eight accusers' claims. And he ridiculed the notion that Mr. Sandusky would have had the time to play basketball and racquetball three times a week, as one accuser said, "and then go fool around" at a time of year when coaches were working 17-hour days to prepare for the upcoming season.
He said accusers' allegations that they were repeatedly assaulted in the basement of the Sandusky's home without the defendant's wife finding out about it were implausible. "What I'm suggesting is it doesn't add up," Mr. Amendola said.
He also told the jury that despite Mr. Sandusky's decades of being with and working with children, none of the allegations predates the mid-1990s. "Out of the blue, after all these years when he's in his 50s, Jerry Sandusky decides to become a pedophile? Does that make any sense?"
He said the initial allegations by the accuser identified as Victim 1, that Mr. Sandusky fondled him above his clothing, mushroomed as investigators goaded him into making more serious allegations. Publicity about the subsequent investigation brought more accusers and lawyers eager to represent them, he said.
At one point near the conclusion of his argument, Mr. Amendola said "if he did this he should rot in jail for the rest of his life." A few moments later, he thanked the jury and urged it to find Mr. Sandusky not guilty on all 48 counts.
The jury, which is sequestered and has no access to phones, television or Internet, had already begun its deliberations when Matt Sandusky's attorneys issued a statement saying that he was prepared to testify as a witness for the prosecution.
"During the trial, Matt Sandusky contacted us and requested our advice and assistance in arranging a meeting with prosecutors to disclose for the first time in this case that he is a victim of Jerry Sandusky's abuse," attorneys Andrew Shubin and Justine Andronici said in the statement.
"At Matt's request, we immediately arranged a meeting between him and the prosecutors and investigators.
"This has been an extremely painful experience for Matt and he has asked us to convey his request that the media respect his privacy. There will be no further comment."
Karl Rominger, one of Jerry Sandusky's lawyers, declined comment.
Last week, Victim 4 testified that he was once in the showers with Matt Sandusky and Jerry Sandusky. When Mr. Sandusky began pumping and throwing soap, Victim 4 said, Matt Sandusky left the shower.
Earlier, Senior McKean County Common Pleas Court Judge John M. Cleland told jurors that they must decide whether the defendant acted with an "intent to satisfy his own sexual desire" when he was with the 10 children he is accused of molesting.
In final legal instructions to the seven women and five men of the jury, Judge Cleland said "it is not necessarily a crime for an adult to touch a child" and that "poor judgment does not of and in itself rise to criminal conduct."
"It is obviously a crime for a man to have oral sex with a boy or have the boy perform oral sex on him," the judge said. "Other forms of physical contact are more problematic." For instance, he said, it is "not necessarily" a crime to take a shower with a child, wash his hair or rub soap on his back or shoulders. What matters is the intent.
"A display of innocent affection is not a crime," he said. Nor does it matter how the child felt, then or now, the judge said.
"The issue is what the defendant intended ... (if he acted) with the intention to satisfy his own sexual desire," Judge Cleland said.
He told the jury that the testimony of the accusers is sufficient, if they believe it, to sustain a guilty verdict without any corroborating evidence.
He told them they must consider each criminal count individually. Four counts have been dropped since the trial began June 11. Those withdrawn Thursday were two counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and one of aggravated indecent assault, all related to the accuser known as Victim 4. One was redundant and two were not supported by testimony in the case, something neither side had realized, Judge Cleland said. He decided to act to spare the jury from deliberating on counts that he would have had to throw out after the verdict, he wrote.