Latest denial from Sandusky angers sex abuse case lawyers
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PHILADELPHIA -- For the second time in a month, Jerry Sandusky has publicly declared he never molested boys, stirring new controversy.
Over the weekend, lawyers for alleged victims expressed outrage over Mr. Sandusky's latest denial. Legal experts debated the wisdom of his speaking out.
And Mr. Sandusky's lawyer said the interview, with The New York Times, was necessary to counter what he called an avalanche of unfair claims against the former Penn State University assistant football coach.
"His case almost from the outset has been so one-sided," lawyer Joseph Amendola told The Philadelphia Inquirer. "Everything was [about] the victims, the victims. ... Everyone just assumed that this was a done deal and Jerry had done these crimes."
Mr. Amendola's comments followed a Times report in which Mr. Sandusky proclaimed his innocence and accused prosecutors of distorting his tenure as an assistant to then-Penn State head coach Joe Paterno and as the founder of a charity for needy children.
"They've taken everything that I ever did for any young person and twisted it to say that my motives were sexual or whatever," Mr. Sandusky told the Times. "I had kid after kid after kid who might say I was a father figure."
Mr. Sandusky told the newspaper he considered many of the children he mentored to be "extended family" and called his interaction with them "precious times."
He gave a similar but shorter interview to NBC News last month, when he was first charged with sexually abusing eight boys between the mid-1990s and 2008. He faces a preliminary hearing on the charges in Centre County on Dec. 13.
His latest denials sparked outrage from his accusers and their lawyers.
"His words were: 'It just makes me furious,' " said Minnesota attorney Jeff Anderson, describing the reaction of his client, a 29-year-old man who filed a lawsuit alleging Mr. Sandusky had molested him more than 100 times.
Andrew Shubin, a State College lawyer who represents an alleged victim in the criminal case, called Mr. Sandusky's interview "an entirely unconvincing denial and a series of bizarre explanations."
Michael Boni, a Bala Cynwyd attorney hired by the family of a Clinton County teenager whose allegations sparked the criminal investigation in 2008, said the boy's mother was distressed by Mr. Sandusky's denial.
"It's another punch in the stomach," Mr. Boni said. "She says, 'Here we go again.' "
Mr. Amendola said he believed some of the accusers were motivated by money -- particularly the prospect of suing the largest university in the state -- and said he intended to question their credibility at trial. He said law firms had been advertising for Mr. Sandusky victims to come forward.
"It's incredible," Mr. Amendola said. "They're inviting people, in my opinion, to fabricate allegations."
In the Times interview, Mr. Sandusky said Mr. Paterno never questioned him about his activities with children or two instances cited in the grand jury report last month.
The report said university police investigated Mr. Sandusky in 1998 after a boy's mother complained about Mr. Sandusky's showering with her son. The second incident occurred in 2002, when a graduate assistant coach allegedly saw Mr. Sandusky sexually assault a boy in the locker-room showers and told Mr. Paterno.
Mr. Paterno and then-university president Graham Spanier were fired by the school's trustees last month.
The decision to let Mr. Sandusky sit for open-ended interviews with reporters has stirred debate and criticism.
"It is an unusual thing to do, there's no doubt about it. But this is an extraordinary case," said Richard Friedman, a University of Michigan law professor on the American Bar Association's criminal-procedures panel. "The usual advice is just keep your mouth shut."
Mark Geragos, a Los Angeles attorney who defended Michael Jackson against molestation charges, said Mr. Sandusky's prosecution was what he called "a supersized case," one with an incessant and oversize media spotlight. Because of that, he said, the public unfairly makes up its mind before a single piece of evidence has been introduced.
"Clearly this has been about as quick a media lynching as I've seen," Mr. Geragos said. "He has been convicted beyond reasonable doubt in the court of public opinion already."
First Published December 5, 2011 12:00 am