HARRISBURG, Pa. – Prosecutors in the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse case asked Tuesday to have jurors brought in from another Pennsylvania county, a day after disclosing in court records they would tell the former Penn State assistant coach the names of his 10 alleged victims.
The attorney general’s office argued in a court motion that pretrial publicity and Penn State’s prominent role in its local community mean Sandusky’s criminal trial warrant the use of jurors from outside the State College area. Sandusky’s lawyer said he would fight the proposal.
In the other court filing, made late Monday, prosecutors said the alleged victims’ names will be delivered to Sandusky’s lawyer by the close of business Friday, a process that would apparently avoid disclosure through public court records. The men are identified as Victim Nos. 1-10 in court records.
Prosecutors said media coverage of Sandusky’s arrest on charges he sexually abused boys over a 15-year period has been “spectacular in its breadth and intensity.”
“The unblinking eye of the press has been focused on a case which is without analogue or peer in the history of this commonwealth,” wrote Senior Deputy Attorney General Joseph McGettigan. “Perhaps an early 20th century Pittsburgh trial implicating Frick or Carnegie might have presented parallels; but truly, this case is necessarily unique.”
Henry Clay Frick and Andrew Carnegie were leading industrialists.
Sandusky’s lawyer, Joe Amendola, said he was vehemently opposed to using an out-of-county jury. Sandusky, 68, faces 52 criminal counts and has denied the allegations against him.
“Jerry’s case has drawn national attention as a result of which we feel there’s no better place than Centre County from which to select fair minded individuals to sit as jurors,” he said in a statement emailed to reporters.
McGettigan argued it would not be fair or practical to ask people who live near Penn State’s main campus to “insulate themselves” from the school where Sandusky coached for many decades.
“Prospective jurors would face a Gordian knot of conscious and even subconscious conflicts and difficulties,” he wrote.
Asked for comment Tuesday on the planned release of alleged victims’ names, Amendola said he had not seen the filing.
“The only statement I have is, he knows who they are,” said Jeffrey Fritz, a lawyer for the young man called Victim 4 in the first grand jury report. “But putting that aside, my understanding of criminal procedure is, he’s entitled to that.”
Lawyer Slade McLaughlin, who represents “Victim 1,” said Amendola told him Tuesday that he needs the names to prepare Sandusky’s legal defence and does not intend to publicize them.
“I would think that most media personnel would keep the information private even if it were made public by Amendola, but there are always a few bad eggs in every barrel, so who knows,” McLaughlin said.
The scandal resulted in the ousting of school President Graham Spanier and longtime coach Joe Paterno, who died Jan. 22, and has brought shame to one of college football’s legendary programs.
Athletic Director Tim Curley has been placed on administrative leave, and Vice-President Gary Schultz, who was in charge of the university’s police department, has stepped down.
Schultz and Curley are charged with lying to the grand jury and failing to report the alleged abuse to proper authorities. Like Sandusky, they have maintained their innocence.
Amendola has requested a “bill of particulars” document from prosecutors that would include names of purported victims along with the times, locations and other information to back up the charges against him. But the attorney general’s office said in a separate document filed in Centre County court that the grand jury reports, charging documents and discovery materials lay out the facts sufficiently.
Sandusky “has at his disposal ample information to be apprised of the charges, avoid surprise, and intelligently raise any double jeopardy or statute of limitations challenges,” prosecutors wrote, asking the judge to deny the request. Sandusky remains on bail while awaiting trial.
Judge John M. Cleland has scheduled a Feb. 10 hearing to resolve any remaining disputes concerning the defence request, and to consider Sandusky’s attempt to modify bail conditions so he may have contact with his grandchildren.
Sandusky wants permission for his 11 grandchildren to visit his home, accompanied by a parent, as well as to be allowed to communicate with them by phone or computer.