Judge to rule on ex-Penn State coach Sandusky's bid for new trial

By David DeKok

 

HARRISBURG, Pa. (Reuters) - A Pennsylvania judge is due to rule on Wednesday whether former Penn State University football coach Jerry Sandusky will receive a new trial on charges that he sexually assaulted pre-teen and teenaged boys for 15 years.

 

Sandusky, 73, was convicted in 2012 of exploiting his position in the top-flight football program to sexually assault 10 boys and is currently serving a 30- to 60-year prison sentence.

 

Centre County Court of Common Pleas Judge John Foradora plans to release his decision at noon ET (1600 GMT)on Wednesday on whether to grant a new trial to the man whose case led to the firing of longtime head coach Joe Paterno and prompted the state to toughen its laws on child sex assault.

 

In his request for a new trial, Sandusky asserted that his original trial attorneys botched his defense, citing 31 mistakes ranging from allowing Sandusky to be interviewed by sports journalist Bob Costas to failing to seek a mistrial after prosecutors in their closing remarks referred to Sanduksy's decision not to testify at his trial.

Defendants in U.S. criminal trials are not required to testify and often do not.

"One may ask how can an innocent person be convicted?" said current Sandusky lawyer Alexander Lindsay in his final brief seeking a new trial. "By any objective measure, Mr. Sandusky did not receive adequate representation in this case."

Prosecutors for the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office, in their own final brief, offered rebuttal for each of the 31 claims and urged Foradora to uphold the conviction.

Peter Goldberger, a lawyer in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, who specializes in state and federal appeals and has no connection to the case, said that even if Sandusky prevails on some of the counts, it would not necessarily result in a new trial.

"Would the outcome have been affected by a better response?" he said. "It has to be something more than a probability."

Sandusky is serving his sentence at the State Correctional Institution at Somerset. He was moved there in February from the state's "supermax" prison at Greene for what the Department of Corrections said were routine reasons.

"He was glad to be moved," Lindsay said. "The conditions at Somerset are much better."

(Editing by Scott Malone and Cynthia Osterman)