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Jerry Sandusky waives preliminary hearing on child sex abuse charges

The former Penn State assistant football coach waived his right to a preliminary hearing on sex abuse charges Tuesday, meaning the case will go to trial.

By Mark Shade and Dave WarnerReuters / December 13, 2011

Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant football coach charged with sexually abusing boys, arrives at the Centre County Courthouse for a preliminary hearing, Tuesday, Dec. 13, in Bellefonte Pa. Shortly after arriving, Sandusky waived his preliminary hearing, a decision that moves him toward a trial on charges of child sex abuse. At least some of his ten accusers had been expected to testify at the hearing.

Matt Rourke/AP

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Bellefonte, Pa.

Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky on Tuesday abruptly waived his right to a preliminary hearing on sex abuse charges, meaning his case will go to trial.

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No date has been set for a trial, which could be several months or even over a year away.

Sandusky, 67, has maintained his innocence on 52 charges of molesting 10 boys over more than a decade.

Tuesday's hearing had been expected to determine whether there is enough evidence to hold Sandusky for trial.

"The decision is surprising," Pennsylvania Deputy Attorney General Marc Costanzo said of Sandusky's waiving the hearing. Costanzo said that prosecutors had 11 witnesses ready to testify that Sandusky was a serial child sex abuser.

Sandusky's decision immediately prompted speculation that he may seek a deal to plead guilty in return for a reduced prison sentence.

But Costanzo said there is not talk of such a deal at this point.

"Sandusky is giving up rights. We're not giving up anything," Costanzo told reporters after the brief court session.

Moments before the hearing was scheduled to begin, Sandusky's lawyer Joe Amendola requested a meeting with the judge.

Audible gasps were heard when the announcement of the waiver was made in the courtroom in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, about ten miles from the Penn State campus in State College.

Sandusky, in a dark suit, was lead out of the back of the courthouse in handcuffs and paused to address reporters:

"We fully intend to put together the best possible defense that we can do, to stay the course, to fight for four quarters...We want the opportunity to present our side."

Sandusky was again released on $250,000 bail and the charges against him will be formally read at an arraignment on Jan. 11, Judge Robert Scott said.

The alleged sex abuse victims met Sandusky through their participation in The Second Mile, a charity he founded in 1977.

The case, which rocked the university and the multibillion-dollar world of U.S. college sports, also raised questions about how Sandusky might have gone for so many years allegedly abusing boys without being detected.

The scandal has already led to the firing of Penn State President Graham Spanier and Sandusky's longtime boss, legendary head football coach Joe Paterno, who were told about a 2002 incident involving Sandusky and a boy in a shower at a Penn State locker room and did not report it to police.

Penn State has said it intended to use revenue from its football team's Jan. 2 bowl game with the University of Houston to start a facility for "the study, research, prevention and treatment of child abuse."

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