Jerry Sandusky’s attorney compares case to ‘All My Children’
By MARK SCOLFORO and GENARO C. ARMAS Associated Press June 19, 2012 12:08PM
Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky arrives at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa., Monday, June 18, 2012. The defense is to begin presenting it's case in Sandusky's trial on 52 counts of child sexual abuse involving 10 boys over a period of 15 years. Monday, June 18, 2012. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
BELLEFONTE, Pa. — Defense attorneys in Jerry Sandusky’s child sex-abuse trial suggested in their questioning Tuesday that investigators shared details among accusers that led to evolving accounts of abuse.
The defense also called more witnesses who lauded the former Penn State assistant football coach’s reputation as an upstanding citizen, but defense attorney Joe Amendola had sharp questions for two state police investigators who interviewed alleged victims.
Amendola questioned the investigators about what details they shared during those interviews, in particular with the accuser known in court papers as Victim 4.
Amendola asked retired Cpl. Joseph Leiter if, in the course of investigating Sandusky, whether they told interviewees about others who had stepped forward and asked if they had been abused by Sandusky.
“In some of our interviews ... we did tell them,” he said.
Asked why, Leiter said it was to let possible victims know they were not alone.
“Each of these accusers was very, very seriously injured, and very concerned, and we had told them — especially prior to going to the grand jury — that they wouldn’t be alone, that there were others,” Leiter said.
Leiter said that did not include sharing individual accusers’ recollections of abuse, such as specific sex acts.
“We never told them what anyone else had ever told us,” he said.
But Amendola later read Leiter portions of an interview transcript in which the investigator told the victim others had reported abuse that progressed to oral sex.
Meanwhile, another witness told jurors she knew Victim 4 through her brother and that he had a reputation for “dishonesty and embellished stories.” The woman, who said her brother was the alleged victim’s best friend, is an Iraq war veteran who suffered a brain injury before she was discharged.
The defense also called former New York Jets linebacker Lance Mehl, who played for the Nittany Lions in the 1970s.
“We all looked up to him as a class act,” Mehl said when Amendola asked him about Sandusky’s reputation.
Earlier Tuesday, Amendola told reporters to “stay tuned” to find out if Sandusky would take the stand himself, comparing the case to a soap opera. Asked which soap opera, defense attorney Joe Amendola initially said “General Hospital,” then “All My Children.”
Sandusky is charged with 51 criminal counts related to 10 alleged victims over a 15-year span. He’s accused of engaging in illegal sexual contact ranging from fondling to forced oral and anal sex.
Prosecutors rested their case Monday after presenting 21 witnesses, including eight who said they had been assaulted by Sandusky. The identities of two other alleged victims are unknown to investigators.
Remaining possible defense witnesses include Sandusky’s wife, Dottie, and an expert who could discuss whether Sandusky has “histrionic personality disorder,” which experts have called a personality disorder characterized by inappropriate sexual behavior and erratic emotions.
The list of potential witnesses also includes a physician who spoke with key prosecution witness Mike McQueary the night he said he saw Sandusky attack a child in a football team shower in 2001, and members of former football coach Joe Paterno’s family, although it was unclear how they might fit into the defense case or whether they will be called.
Attorneys retained by the accusers say they’ve also received subpoenas to testify.
Sandusky’s arrest led the university trustees to fire Paterno as coach in November, saying his response to the 2001 report from McQueary showed a lack of leadership. Paterno died of cancer in January.