Sandusky verdict? Our legal analyst says ‘Not guilty’ (Well, not really)

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Reuters/Pat Little

As the Jerry Sandusky case nears its end, we’ve heard a seemingly interminable procession of accusers and witnesses describe horrific sexual abuse.  The trial of the former Penn State assistant coach for 51 criminal counts involving 10 alleged victims over a 15-year span has turned the once bucolic town of Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, into a media encampment.  
 
But whether it’s the locals, the members of the media stationed on the court lawn, voices on the internet, or the rest of the world, a few common, recurring themes have emerged the last two weeks:
 

  • There’s a mountain of evidence against him; 
  • The testimony is graphic and disturbing; 
  • This is a tragedy for the victims and community.  

 
However, there’s one discussion strangely missing from this particular trial.  This time, no one is asking the question:  What will the verdict be?  Guilty or Not Guilty?  
 
From O.J. Simpson to Casey Anthony, we all asked The Question.  But not this time.  Apparently no one thinks the verdict is even worth debating.  Apparently, the public was convinced last week as they watched a steady stream of accusers (well, blurred-out courtroom sketches of accusers) point their penciled-in fingers at a drawing of the defendant’s head.  There appears to be no national debate here: the guilty verdict is in.    
 
Allow me shake it up a little with my prediction: 
 
Not Guilty.  
 
That’s right. Not guilty.  
 
You see, unlike others, I refuse to get bogged down by distractions like “evidence,” “logic,” or “common sense”.  In fact, my reasons for this prediction have nothing to do with the prosecution’s case at all.  I am proudly ignorant of the facts.  Why so reckless?  I’ll offer an explanation for that too.  But first, my three reasons why I’m predicting Not Guilty in Commonwealth v. Sandusky: 
 
1. The Ultimate Vegas Underdog:  I have not checked the odds, but in gambling parlance, my wager is what most experts call a “long shot,” “the dark horse,” or just plain “sucker bet”.  Still, my odds of a not guilty verdict hover well above the odds of, say, buying a winning lottery ticket.  Judging by the number of folks wasting money on state-sponsored lotto with odds squarely in the kabillion-to-one category, my lousy verdict bet wouldn’t be the worst place to put some money.   

2. America Doesn’t Convict Celebrities: When was the last time we convicted a celebrity?  Whether it’s O.J. Simpson, Robert Blake, John Edwards, or Roger Clemens, in America, the verdict is “Not Guilty by Reason of Fame.”  If Scott Peterson had even been an extra in a B-level zombie flick, he might not be on death row right now.  In America, we have a rich tradition…of letting the rich and famous walk.

3. No One Remembers Incorrect Predictions Anyway:  Thank goodness this is true.  Geraldo Rivera predicted a conviction on Casey Anthony.  So did I.  So did everyone.  We were all wrong.  Fortunately, Americans mercifully have short memory spans when it comes to predictions, promises, and scandal.  With time, all is forgiven and forgotten in the land of the free internet, and the home of the Bravo Channel.  Remember when Kobe Bryant was accused of rape?  Americans forever condemned him…by asking him to represent the United States in the Olympics just a few years later.  When you look at it that way, all I’m doing is making a foolish prediction.  Instead of criticism, I probably deserve an honorary spot on the U.S. Curling Team.    

Ultimately, critics may see my Sandusky prediction as thinly veiled, negative-attention-seeking behavior.  They are probably right.  I’ll just blame it on histrionic personality disorder.  After all, everyone else is doing it.



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