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

Federal mediator joins Met Opera labor talks as…

Unions representing the orchestra and chorus of the Met Opera agreed to have a federal mediator join labor talks on Thursday as a threatened lockout loomed.

Local

Winning $7 million New York lottery ticket sold…

The only $7 million winning New York Lottery ticket for Monday's Cash4Life drawing was sold at a Queens 7-Eleven, officials said on Tuesday.

Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

Movies

Review: 'Guardians of the Galaxy' is a refreshingly…

Marvel is sitting so high on a cash mountain that it's now thrown $170 million at the relatively obscure and very silly title "Guardians of the Galaxy."

Movies

Review: 'Get on Up' is a war between…

James Brown finally gets his own boring biopic with "Get on Up," but the Godfather of Soul puts up a good fight against the usual cliches.

Movies

Review: 'Child of God' finds director James Franco…

James Franco's 11th directed feature is a noble but sloppy adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's "Child of God," about a feral mountain man (Scott Haze).

Movies

Review: Alex Gibney's Fela Kuti doc 'Finding Fela'…

Prolific documentarian Alex Gibney takes on Afrobeat god Fela Kuti in "Finding Fela," but fails to capture his unique essence.

MLB

Yankees land Stephen Drew, Martin Prado at trade…

Yankees land Stephen Drew, Martin Prado at trade deadline

College

Playing the Field: Valentine's Day coupling edition

  It’s Valentine’s Day, a day created by Hallmark to make couples spend loads and loads of money on candy, flowers and gourmet dinners. Or…

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

Career

What do you wear to a career fair?…

Getting that gig starts with presenting the most polished and memorable version of yourself, so refer to our expert fashion advice.

Style

Editors pick: Margiela's finger armor ring

These cool rings from Maison Martin Margiela are designed to overlap over the finger, covering each joint like armor.

Style

Givenchy champions diversity

Riccardo Tisci's uses a variety of ethnically diverse ladies for his spring campaign including Erykah Badu.

Wellbeing

Don't settle for the hotel fitness center with…

Travelers who want to skip the hotel fitness center in favor of local gyms that may offer better equipment, classes and amenities can turn to…