Prosecutor brands Jerry Sandusky ‘predatory pedophile’ as trial begins

Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky (C) arrives at Centre County Court in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania.

The prosecution branded former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky a “predatory pedophile” in opening statements on Monday in his child sex abuse trial, saying that his young victims remained silent only out of fear and shame.

In the defense’s opening statement in a trial closely watched in the United States, Sandusky’s attorney Joe Amendola told the seven women and five men of the jury that Sandusky, 68, was a naive man filled with love and affection for young people.

“Jerry Sandusky, in my opinion, loves kids so much he does things that none of us would ever think of doing,” Amendola said.

Sandusky faces 52 counts of sexual abuse against 10 boys. If convicted, the former Pennsylvania State University football defensive coordinator could be sentenced to more than 500 years in prison.

Eight young men are prepared to testify in Centre County Court in Pennsylvania about how Sandusky befriended and sexually abused them as boys over a 15-year period, according to prosecutors. The men, now aged 18 to 28, will be identified publicly for the first time in court.

In his opening statement, prosecutor Joseph McGettigan III called Sandusky a “predatory pedophile” and urged the jury to listen to his alleged victims in the case, now men, as though they were children.

“You will be hearing the voices of young men, but I ask you to bring insight … of how children react to things,” McGettigan said.

McGettigan added that he would press the witnesses for details in the lurid case only because the jurors’ needed to hear them. “I must ask, and they must answer,” McGettigan said.

Putting up pictures of eight of the 10 alleged victims on a courtroom screen, while occasionally jabbing a finger toward Sandusky, McGettigan told jurors that eight had remained silent until now out of humiliation, fear and shame.

As the prosecutor spoke, Sandusky sat silently, hunched forward with his back to the packed courtroom, as ceiling fans whirled overhead.

Amendola called his task of defending Sandusky a difficult one, given the resources of the state and a “tidal wave” of negative publicity about the case.

‘A DAUNTING TASK’

“This is a daunting task. This is like looking up at Mount Everest from the bottom of the hill, it’s like David and Goliath,” he told jurors.

Amendola suggested Sandusky could take the witness stand, telling jurors that the former coach would tell them about his youth and how taking showers with other people had been common for people of his generation growing up in Washington, Pennsylvania.

Amendola also hinted that the accusers could be out for money, saying that six of the eight identified accusers had taken the step of retaining civil attorneys.

Prosecutors allege Sandusky had physical contact with the boys, known in court documents as Victims 1 to 10, that ranged from tickling and a “soap battle” in Penn State showers to oral and anal sex.

The abuse charges shook the university and prompted the firing of revered football coach Joe Paterno and university President Graham Spanier in November 2011.

Sandusky is accused of using the Second Mile, a charity he founded in 1977, to prey on needy young boys. The charity said last month it was closing because contributions had dried up.

Victor Vieth, executive director of the National Child Protection Training Center, said Amendola would try to attack the accusers’ credibility but would face a tough task.

The long gap between the alleged abuses and reporting them “only adds to their credibility,” said Vieth, a former Minnesota prosecutor. “This is not a fun day for them. Who wants to talk about having anal intercourse with a much older man?”

The allegations brought an ignominious end to the career of Paterno, who recorded more wins in major college football than any other coach. He died of lung cancer in January, about two months after being fired. His widow Sue and son Jay may be called as witnesses for Sandusky.

The charges also marked a watershed in awareness of child sexual abuse. Sandusky was a well-respected children’s champion and coach in college football.

Sandusky has laid out a potential defense, saying in an NBC television interview in November that he engaged in horseplay with alleged victims but stopped short of sexual intercourse or penetration.

Amendola has said one of his tactics will be to “destroy” the credibility of former graduate football assistant Mike McQueary and thus raise questions about all the witnesses and victims.

McQueary, a key witness, told prosecutors he saw Sandusky assaulting a boy known as Victim 2 in February 2001 in a Penn State locker room. Victim 2 and another boy, Victim 8, have not been found.

The trial has brought a flood of media to Bellefonte, a town of 6,200 people about 10 miles northeast of State College, the location of Penn State’s main campus.

Eight of the 12 jurors, who were picked last week, have ties to Penn State, the largest employer in the area of small towns and farms. But legal and jury experts said familiarity is no guarantee of sympathy for Sandusky and may hurt him if they blame him for tarnishing the university’s image.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Hillary Clinton headed to Boston for women's leadership…

Former U.S. Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is set to visit Massachusetts Wednesday amid continuing speculation about making another bid for the presidency in 2016.

Local

The Boston Marathon: Step by step, the race…

For over a century, the Boston Marathon has been an event centered around sportsmanship, endurance and athleticism, but there’s no denying the face of the renowned race has been changed…

Local

Boston Marathon: Marathoners ready to run, honor victims

Scores of runners will cross the Boston Marathon starting line in Hopkinton Monday and embark on a 26.2-mile journey to Boston in honor of the victims.

Local

MIT student, Rhodes scholar, dies

Eliana Hechter, a student at MIT and Harvard, died, her family said. The announcement was posted on MIT's website.

Television

Discovery cancels 'Everest Jump Live' special in wake…

The Discovery Channel has indicated it will not be moving forward with "Everest Jump Live," a planned special about mountain climber Joby Ogwyn's effort to…

The Word

'X-Men' director Bryan Singer drama continues

  News broke late last week that "X-Men" and "The Usual Suspects" director Bryan Singer is being sued by a man who said Singer molested…

The Word

Miley Cyrus cancels more dates, tweeting from hospital

Miley Cyrus is reportedly so sick that she's had to postpone more tour dates. We know this because she has been sitting in a hospital…

Music

Loop are, er, um, back in the loop

Experimental noise rock band Loop's three mid-1980s to early-1990s albums, “Heavens End,” “Fade Out” and “A Gilded Eternity,” were mercifully reissued.

NHL

NHL video highlights: Bruins smack down Red Wings…

NHL video highlights: Bruins smack down Red Wings in Game 2

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox defeat Orioles, 4-2

Brock Holt the difference in the Red Sox' win

NHL

NHL video highlights & analysis: Red Wings dump…

NHL video highlights & analysis: Red Wings dump Bruins in Game 1

MLB

MLB video highlights: Orioles top Red Sox, 8-4…

John Lackey roughed up for second straight outing

Travel

Packing: The one thing you need in your…

A new survey that looks at the travel habits of 50,000 people around the world has revealed that Western and Asian globetrotters have different priorities…

Home

Is your chair making it hard to talk?

Ever wished there was an office chair that could make impromptu meetings and discussions more private? The Cristiana Wing Chair is an asymmetrical armchair which…

Travel

Live large at these luxury hotels

From Thai boxing lessons and macabre Dracula tours to the Australian Outback, the Four Seasons hotel chain launched a series of new travel packages this…

Parenting

4 things that every summer camp should have

Alan Saltz, director of the 92nd street Y program lists things that every summer camp should have.