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Prosecutor calls Jerry Sandusky a ‘predatory pedophile’

Televisisatellite trucks line South Allegheny Street front Centre County Courthouse Bellefonte Pa. Sunday June 10 2012 preparatifor opening statements child

Television satellite trucks line South Allegheny Street in front of the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa., Sunday, June 10, 2012, in preparation for opening statements in the child sexual abuse trial of former Penn State Football assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky on Monday morning. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

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BELLEFONTE, Pa. — Jerry Sandusky was a serial predator who took advantage of fatherless children or those with unstable home lives and sexually abused them for years, the lead prosecutor said Monday in his opening statement at the former Penn State assistant football coach’s trial.

Senior Deputy Attorney General Joseph McGettigan III showed the jury of seven women and five men photos of the accusers and said that prosecutors will show that the longtime assistant to football coach Joe Paterno was a pedophile whose activities took place “not over days, not over weeks, not even over months, but in some cases over years.”

McGettigan told the jury that Sandusky put his hands in one victim’s pants and engaged in oral sex with another. He said prosecutors will show a pattern in which Sandusky groomed boys, gave them gifts and then abused them, sometimes in the Penn State football team’s on-campus facilities.

Sandusky, 68, faces 52 criminal counts that he sexually abused 10 boys over 15 years, allegations he has denied. Sandusky’s lawyers were not able to get the judge to delay the trial, and on Friday Judge John Cleland rejected their request to have some or all of the counts dismissed.

They were to offer their opening statement later Monday morning.

McGettigan told the jury that Sandusky met the each victim through The Second Mile, a children’s charity he established in 1977. He called the charity the “perfect environment for the predatory pedophile” and his way to get close to his victims.

Six of the alleged victims had no father in their lives, McGettigan said.

“They are real people with real experience,” McGettigan said. “You will know they were violated.”

Among the items seized by investigators was a list of Second Mile participants, some marked with asterisks — including some of the victims expected to testify — that included notations about what they looked like and whether they had parents, McGettigan said.

The first man to testify will detail how Sandusky groomed him for sexual contact with gifts and trips and coerced him into sexual contact, including dozens of liaisons in a sauna, McGettigan said.

The prosecutor said the same man would tell the jury about how Dottie Sandusky inadvertently interrupted an encounter in a San Antonio hotel after Sandusky brought the youth with him when Penn State played in the Alamo Bowl in December 1999 — Sandusky’s final game as a Penn State coach. Sandusky coerced him into engaging in oral sex in a hotel room bathroom, but was interrupted when the coach’s wife entered the hotel room, McGettigan said.

The man, now 28, will be the oldest of the alleged victims to testify, said McGettigan.

Sandusky hunched slightly in his seat at the defense table as Cleland outlined the charges to the jurors. He looked pale and blinked a lot, then he looked away after McGettigan referenced an alleged 2001 attack in a Penn State shower.

Cleland opted not to sequester the jury, saying he trusted the panel to avoid reading or watching reports about the case.

Many of the alleged victims are expected to take the stand for the prosecution, and their credibility in jurors’ eyes could prove to be the decisive factor in determining the verdict.

Slade McLaughlin, the attorney for the teen identified in the grand jury report as Victim 1, said he expects his client to testify Monday or Tuesday.

“He’s in good spirits, very calm, very relaxed,” McLaughlin said as he waited for a seat inside the courtroom.

Snowboards, hockey sticks and other items described in a grand jury report as gifts lavished on one of the victims were carried into the courthouse before the start of the morning session.

Mindful of protecting the privacy of witnesses, officials set up a tent at the rear of the courthouse while the doors were covered to obscure views of the witness-holding areas.

Two Penn State administrators are awaiting trial on charges they failed to properly report suspected abuse and lied to the grand jury investigating Sandusky. The pending charges raise the prospect that investigators under the attorney general’s office may be continuing to look into that matter, which commonly occurs after charges are filed and before trial.

Several of Sandusky’s alleged victims have retained attorneys, although only one has so far filed a civil complaint. That case is on hold until Sandusky’s trial wraps up, and other lawyers also have indicated they are holding back until a verdict is reached.

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