Prosecution closes in Sandusky case; jury begins deliberations
Jerry Sandusky leaves the Centre County Courthouse after the jury began deliberating his case. At right is Centre County Sheriff Denny Nau.
Jerry Sandusky arrives at the Centre County Courthouse with his wife, Dorothy (left) for the closing arguments in his trial today.
Jerry Sandusky leaves the Centre County Courthouse on Wednesday after the defense rested on the seventh day of testimony.
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BELLEFONTE, Pa. -- The lead prosecutor in the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse case urged the jury to find him guilty on all counts, calling him a "serial predatory pedophile" who preyed on vulnerable children.
Senior Deputy Attorney General Joseph McGettigan III 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 Mr. 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 Dorothy Sandusky's answer to a question at the end of her testimony about why all of the accusers would lie. Ms. Sandusky 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."
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."
The jury left the Centre County courtroom to begin deliberations at 1:12 p.m.
Defense attorney Joe Amendola told a Centre County jury today 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 a 72-minute closing argument, the defense lawyer castigated police for repeatedly questioning would-be accusers until they embellished their stories, and lawyers who he said were after a big payday from civil lawsuits that would be enhanced if Mr. Sandusky is found guilty.
"On November 5 of last year, Mr. Sandusky's world came to an end. Mrs. Sandusky's world came to an end. Mr. Sandusky's children's world came to an end," he said of the day that charges were announced by the state attorney general's office.
He said there was virtually no physical or corroborating evidence to support the eight accusers' claims.
He ridiculed the notion that the former Penn State assistant football coach 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 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 fifties, Jerry Sandusky decides to become a pedophile? Does that make any sense?"
He said the initial allegations by the child 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.
Earlier this morning, McKean County Senior Common Pleas 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.
A senior McKean County judge who was brought in to preside at the trial in Centre County court, Judge Cleland 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. With the withdrawal of three more counts today, the jury will deliberate 48 charges.
The withdrawn charges were two counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and one of aggravated indecent assault, all related to the accuser known as Victim 4. In an order amending the charges, the judge wrote that charges of anal and digital penetration were withdrawn because the witness testified that Mr. Sandusky "attempted" anal intercourse and digital penetration. Regarding the other withdrawn count, the judge wrote that Count 17 and 18 charge the defendant with the same conduct under the same statute, and therefore Count 18 was dismissed.
First Published June 21, 2012 6:54 am