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Jerry Sandusky case: Should court let suspected pedophile see grandkids?

Trial is set for May 14 for Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State football coach charged with sexual abuse of 10 boys. His bail conditions bar interaction with minors, but he wants the court to let him talk with and see his grandchildren. 

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Judge Cleland did not rule on any of the motions Friday but indicated he might do so “quickly.”

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Richard Frankel, a professor at Drexel University’s Earle Mack School of Law, in Philadelphia, says it's unlikely the judge will find for the prosecution. Bail conditions, Mr. Frankel says, are typically determined on the risks a defendant may pose to the community or to himself, or whether they are a flight risk, none of which sums up Sandusky’s history to date.

“The idea that merely being visible is a threat to the community – that almost sounds like a presumption of guilt over a presumption of innocence. That seems pretty strict,” Frankel says.

Likewise, Norm Pattis, a criminal defense attorney in New Haven, Conn., says that Sandusky is not a proven flight risk and that accusations his presence on his back deck is dangerous to the community are so far based on “hysteria.”

“He’s not in prison; he’s on bond. The notion that people want him in some kind of existential prison before the real walls come in is crazy,” he says.

Prosecutors are also asking Cleland to move Sandusky’s trial outside Pennsylvania's Centre County, where Sandusky lives and where most of the crimes are alleged to have occurred. They say that it will be difficult to find a jury not connected to the Penn State University community, and that heavy media attention presents complications. The defense says that the media attention is not exclusive to Centre County and that it should not be difficult to find an impartial jury. 

The subtext of the competing motions between both legal teams is psychological warfare, Pattis says. “The goal is to win and to throw many things into the record to try to create frustration on the other side so they make a misstep,” he says.

However, because of the many complexities of the Sandusky case, it is unusual for the defense to spend so much time on the details of their client's bond restrictions, he says. 

“I’m not sure what you gain in squabbling over his grandchildren. It’s a little ridiculous,” he says.

Report: 15 cases where sex offenders got jobs at US schools  

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