Abuse charges 'defy logic,' Sandusky's lawyer contends
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After he was confronted by police but not charged for doing anything inappropriate in 1998 for showering with a young boy in the Penn State University football locker rooms, Jerry Sandusky continued to engage in much the same conduct. He retired the next year.
Earlier this month, the former Penn State defensive coordinator was charged with 40 counts of sexually assaulting eight different boys.
Mr. Sandusky's defense attorney, Joseph Amendola, said Monday that his client didn't feel the need to change his behavior because, in his mind, he wasn't doing anything wrong -- just showering with the kids he worked out with.
"Common sense would tell us, 'Why would you [continue to] do it?' " Mr. Amendola said. "It's a question I asked."
Mr. Sandusky's answer to his lawyer was: " 'We had workouts. We got showers. I thought it was resolved. I know there was nothing sexual.' "
"That's a question he'll have to answer when we get to court," Mr. Amendola continued. "Obviously, it was the showering with the kids that led to these allegations. Obviously, he left himself wide open for allegations, and it came back to bite him."
In a wide-ranging, hourlong interview, Mr. Amendola repeatedly asserted his client's innocence, accused the state attorney general's office of having an agenda and said the allegations against Mr. Sandusky "defy logic."
"We're asking everyone to ... let the process take its course before reaching any conclusions. He's presumed innocent, and he wants to prove his innocence.
"You have to keep an open mind."
That may prove too difficult for many people, considering the graphic nature of a grand jury report and the resulting scandal that has kept Penn State University on the front pages for nearly a month.
In the days immediately after Mr. Sandusky's arrest on Nov. 5, Mr. Amendola said a young man showed up at his office claiming to be the person described in the grand jury presentment as Victim No. 2.
The grand jury alleges that Mike McQueary, then a graduate assistant at Penn State, walked into the football team's locker room late on March 1, 2002. Mr. McQueary looked into the shower, he told the grand jury, and said he saw a boy about 10 years old, being sodomized by Mr. Sandusky.
Though Mr. McQueary told his father and then-head football coach Joe Paterno the next day, the presentment said no report was ever made to the police.
Instead, the only action taken, the grand jury said, was that Tim Curley, Penn State's athletic director, and Gary Schultz, vice president for finance and business, prohibited Mr. Sandusky from bringing boys on campus.
Mr. Amendola said the young man who showed up at his office believed he was that boy and said the allegations were false.
" 'I want to tell you it didn't happen. I will testify it didn't happen,' " Mr. Amendola said the young man told him.
But, the lawyer continued, the alleged victim has still not gone to investigators to repeat his claim.
"He doesn't want to come forward because he's running scared," Mr. Amendola said. "He has an attorney."
That attorney, Andrew Shubin, did not return a call seeking comment.
"Jerry said from the very start, 'it's totally untrue,' " Mr. Amendola said of the allegations from Victim No. 2. "He never did what McQueary said he did."
Instead, the lawyer said what happened was that the boy turned on all of the shower heads in the large shower room and was sliding across the floor.
"That might account for what McQueary called the slapping sounds," Mr. Amendola said.
When the incident occurred, Mr. Sandusky told his lawyer that Mr. Curley did speak to him. Mr. Curley informed Mr. Sandusky he had been told that someone was uncomfortable when Mr. Sandusky showered with boys and engaged in "horseplay."
Mr. Amendola said his client then gave Mr. Curley the boy's name and phone number if university officials wanted to speak with him and Mr. Sandusky also agreed to stop bringing boys into the football building.
Mr. Amendola questioned why Mr. McQueary's grand jury testimony was believed while that of Mr. Curley and Mr. Schultz was not.
As for Mr. Paterno, the lawyer said, "I'm sure his recollection is clouded by time and age."
Mr. Amendola also wondered how it was possible that all of the men involved -- from Mr. McQueary all the way up to former university President Graham Spanier -- could have simply ignored that a boy was raped.
"The whole thing just smacks of not being plausible," he said. "It just doesn't make sense."
As for the person named Victim No. 1 in the presentment, Mr. Amendola said he believes the boy made up the allegations to get away from Mr. Sandusky.
"The kid wanted out from under Jerry's supervision because Jerry was a tough taskmaster," Mr. Amendola said. "This kid wanted to just hang out with his buddies."
The investigation into Mr. Sandusky began when Victim No. 1 spoke to administrators at his Clinton County high school and reported inappropriate contact with Mr. Sandusky, who had been a volunteer coach with the football team.
From there, Clinton County Children and Youth Services was contacted, and later the Centre County district attorney's office.
The person identified as Victim No. 4 in the presentment visited Mr. and Mrs. Sandusky with his girlfriend and their new baby in the summer of 2009, Mr. Amendola said.
The couple said they wanted the Sanduskys to be part of their lives, the lawyer said.
"Again, there's a real credibility issue," Mr. Amendola said.
In addition, Mr. Amendola said Mr. and Mrs. Sandusky had dinner with Victim No. 6 and the man they believe is Victim No. 2 this past summer.
Since the news broke, Mr. Sandusky and his wife, Dottie, have become "prisoners in their own home," Mr. Amendola said.
Mr. Amendola described Dottie Sandusky as a "very quiet, private person."
"She is standing with Jerry. She's behind him 100 percent," he said. But, he continued, "she's very reluctant to come out publicly."
Mr. Amendola said that's the case with Mr. Sandusky's children, as well.
"There's been a very chilling effect for those who have come out in support of Jerry," he said.
The Sanduskys have six adopted children, five sons and a daughter. Three of them were adopted at birth, one was 9 months old and the other two were in their mid-teens when they were adopted. They are all grown now, Mr. Amendola said, ranging in age from 32 to 50.
"They want to tell the world how he saved their lives," Mr. Amendola said. "They all say how great of a dad Jerry was and there was never any inappropriate sexual conduct with any of them.
"As soon as people come out, they get trashed."
Trying to cope with the media attention and stress has been difficult, Mr. Amendola said.
Last week, new allegations were made that Mr. Sandusky molested a young relative of his.
Mr. Amendola called the claims "absolutely ridiculous."
"They're going to come out of the woodwork," he said. "They're seeing the possibility of getting money from Penn State. Obviously, they see Penn State has deep pockets."
Mr. Sandusky was "heartbroken" by the allegation from the relative and is devastated by the entire criminal case, Mr. Amendola said.
"Everything he's worked for in his life -- everything he held dear -- has been trashed and destroyed."
Correction/Clarification: (Published November 30, 2011) Jerry Sandusky, the former defensive coordinator at Penn State University, retired in 1999. A story Tuesday gave the wrong year.
First Published November 29, 2011 12:00 am