Jerry Sandusky trial begins picking jurors
By MARK SCOLFORO and GENARO C. ARMAS Associated Press June 5, 2012 9:46AM
Television satellite trucks set up outside the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa., Monday, June 4, 2012, in preparation for the start of the child sexual abuse trial of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
BELLEFONTE, Pa. — Prosecutors and Jerry Sandusky’s defense lawyers started the process of picking a jury for his child sexual abuse case Tuesday with a pool of 220 potential jurors.
More than 600 summonses were sent out to residents in Centre County, the home of Penn State University. The process of finding the 12 jurors and four alternates could take days.
Judge John Cleland addressed the prospective jurors in a somber, packed courtroom inside the courthouse while, outside, scores of journalists lined the front lawn with television cameras and computers waiting for word.
The prospective jurors were to be taken in groups of 40 for more questions and, ultimately one-on-one questioning in phase three for those who are not dismissed beforehand.
Sandusky, the 68-year-old former Penn State assistant coach is accused of 52 criminal counts for alleged abuse of 10 boys over 15 years, charges he’s repeatedly denied.
Sandusky arrived at the courthouse, about 10 miles from the Penn State campus, Tuesday morning with his lawyer. They didn’t comment as they exited their vehicle.
An hour before jury selection was set to begin, a dozen photographers awaited Sandusky’s arrival while 10 television satellite trucks lined up outside the courthouse in Bellefonte.
Potential jurors slowly filed into the front door of the courthouse around 8 a.m., some standing in a steady drizzle as they wait to get through security. One man wore a gray Penn State sweat shirt.
The jurors are being chosen from among people who live in the State College area, where Penn State’s main campus is located. That was a victory for the defense, which argued against bringing in jurors from elsewhere in the state.
Some of the alleged victims are expected to testify during the trial, the opening of which is likely to begin on Monday morning.
The expected witnesses are expected to include several young men who contend they were abused by Sandusky. Prosecutors have claimed that Sandusky groomed boys he met through a charity he founded for at-risk youth, then attacked them, in some cases in his own home or inside university athletic facilities.
Among the challenges for jury selection are the extraordinarily heavy news coverage of the scandal and the wide reach of The Second Mile, the youth charity Sandusky founded in 1977.