Jerry Sandusky trial to head to jury without testimony from the accused
With former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky not testifying in his own defense at his trial for child sex abuse, the jury faces with two alternatives: Believe the accusers – or not. Closing arguments are Thursday.
In Pictures Fallout from the Penn State scandal
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The brevity seems to pale in comparison to the global attention on events starting in November, when Mr. Sandusky was arrested and charged with 52 counts related to the sexual molestation of 10 minors, all at-risk boys formerly in his charge as the leader of a charity organization designed to protect them. (The charges were later reduced to 51.)
The scandal not only tarnished the reputation of one of America’s most prestigious athletics program – and drew scrutiny to what appeared to be a coverup by top administration – but it also ended the legendary career of its beloved football coach, Joe Paterno, who died soon after.
IN PICTURES: Fallout from the Penn State scandal
As the nightmarish details of the alleged abuse emerged, it soon became clear that the subsequent trial would lack the complexities that force other high-profile trials drag to on for weeks or sometimes months: forensics, crime scene evidence, wiretaps, financial statements.
Instead, after nine days in the Centre County courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa., the jury must decide between two accounts of events: one that paints Sandusky as a monster who preyed on young boys, and a second that depicts his affections not as sexual but rather as the result of a mental health disorder.
Once the case gets handed to the jury for deliberation, the task will be weighty, but the decision clear-cut, says Michael Scotto, a former criminal prosecutor in New York City: “You believe [the victims] or you don’t. There’s not a lot of nuance.”
Attorneys representing Sandusky were criticized in the early weeks of his arrest for exposing their client to two media interviews, one for NBC and the other for the New York Times, both of which became immediate missteps: Sandusky denying the accusations but appearing unaware of the traditional boundaries between adults and children.
"If I say, 'no, I'm not attracted to young boys,' that's not the truth, because I'm attracted to young people – boys, girls … I enjoy spending time with young people,” he told the Times in December.
Needless to say, it wasn’t a surprise he never made it to the witness stand. Instead, lead defense attorney Joseph Amendola ushered in surrogates who vouched for Sandusky’s good character, the most powerful being Dottie Sandusky, his wife of 45 years. The grandmotherly Mrs.Sandusky countered the accounts of narratives, laid out by the alleged victims, that her husband molested them in the basement of their home, a hotel bathroom, and the locker room showers of the Penn State athletics department.