Jerry Sandusky: Facts
Issues to be debated at Sandusky’s appeals hearing
09/14/2013 – Superior Court will hear oral argument Tuesday in Wilkes-Barre as former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky seeks a new trial. Here’s what his lawyer and the attorney general’s office will debate:
PROMPT COMPLAINT: Did the judge make a mistake when he did not give jurors a defense-requested instruction about the failure of some of the victims to report their abuse in promptly?
SANDUSKY TESTIMONY: Did the prosecutor cross a line when he referred to a Sandusky TV interview, raising questions in jurors’ minds about why he did not take the stand in his own defense?
SPEEDY TRIAL: Did Sandusky’s lawyers have ample time to prepare for trial, given that prosecutors turned over about 9,000 pages of documents?
CHARACTER EVIDENCE: Did the judge err when he told jurors that character evidence should be weighed along with the other evidence in the case?
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The Freeh Report
07/12/2012 -After the sex abuse story broke and the university found itself embroiled in scandal, Penn State officials hired a team of investigators (including former FBI director and federal judge Louis Freeh, for whom the report is named) to conduct independent research into what the university knew about the scandal and whether it was covered up. After eight months, the Freeh Report is complete.
The 267-page report found that Penn State officials, including former university president Graham Spanier, former head coach Joe Paterno, former athletics director Tim Curley and former university vice-president Gary Schultz knew of Sandusky’s child sex abuse as early as 2001. In February 2001, Mike McQueary reported witnessing Jerry Sandusky with one of the children from his Second Mile charity in the Penn State locker room showers.
According to the report, which was the result of conducting 430 interviews and reviewing 3.5 million emails, there was critical written correspondence showing that on February 25, 2001, Curley and Schultz were prepared to report Sandusky to the authorities based on McQueary’s accusations. However, two days later, on February 27, 2001, they changed their plan. Between the decision to turn him in and their decision not to, there was a February 26, 2001 meeting between Curley and Joe Paterno.
Based on those facts, it appears as though Joe Paterno himself was an integral part of the University’s decision to conceal the reports of Sandusky’s abuse. As one of the most powerful men on campus, and as one person who certainly could have put an end to Sandusky’s outrageous exploitation of youngsters, his affirmative decision not to act is conscience-shocking.
One of the most damning examples of Paterno’s power and influence came from an interview with a janitor, who told investigators he did not report witnessing Sandusky performing oral sex on a young boy because it “would have been like going against the President of the United States in my eyes . . . I know Paterno had too much power, if he wanted to get rid of someone, I would have been gone.”
The janitor then told investigators “football runs this University,” and that he believed if he had spoken up, the University would have closed ranks to protect the football program.
The report noted that in order to avoid bad publicity for the university’s famed football program, critical information about Sandusky’s behavior was concealed — information that could have protected the children he worked with through his Second Mile charity. Avoiding bad press was a critical concern for Penn State. If fans were to turn their backs on the football program, that financial loss would have negative implications for the rest of the school.
Basically, the most powerful men at Penn State failed to act for over a decade, showing total disregard for the many children Sandusky victimized over the years. They knew about the abuse and did not stop it.
The Freeh Report also found that the Penn State Board of Trustees knew of the abuse and failed to hold the most senior leaders of the university responsible for the victimization of at-risk children. The Freeh Report recommends that the university work to create a culture of accountability and transparency, particularly with respect to the athletics organization and that it hire a chief compliance officer to protect against further lawlessness.
The university promised full disclosure. Investigators have sifted through thousands of emails and other internal documents to find out who was involved and how much they knew.
The report findings will have an enormous impact on the upcoming criminal trials of Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, who are both facing charges of lying to a Pennsylvania grand jury about how much they knew. Both men testified that they did not know about Sandusky’s behavior, testimony that has now been undermined by the Freeh Report findings. Spanier has publicly supported both Curley and Schultz, meaning that once again, his credibility is under fire.
The allegations that Jerry Sandusky, a former football coach for the Pennsylvania State University football team, sexually assaulted young boys under the indifferent eye of the Penn State football program captured the nation’s attention for months. Penn State’s football program was not just known for their winning record but also for the sport’s father-figure and moral compass in head coach Joe “Joe Pa” Paterno.
Sandusky met his victims through a children’s charity he ran, The Second Mile. The prosecution brought forth evidence that ten children were victimized by Sandusky. After the trial was over, lawyers for Jerry Sandusky’s adopted son, Matt Sandusky, revealed that he was also abused by Sandusky. A civil lawsuit against The Second Mile charity, Sandusky and Penn State identifies still more victims.
Penn State University and the football coaching staff, including Penn State football legend, head coach Joe Paterno, came under intense scrutiny, as speculation swarms that the football program covered up the decades of abuse to preserve the reputation, strength and influence of their athletics program.
Several months have passed since allegations surfaced that Sandusky sexually assaulted these children, and its fair to say that Happy Valley may never be the same again. But it’s important to remember what Happy Valley, Pennsylvania was like before these allegations.
This was a college town where football was a religion, where “Joe Pa” was a moral compass and the “Sandusky Blitz” was an ice cream flavor at a local shop. The reporter who broke the story, Sara Ganim, spent months investigating the rumors of child sex abuse, and she met with more slammed doors in her face and outright lies than with credible information. The Penn State football legacy was so strong, so powerful, that even the worst kinds of rumor could not tarnish it.
Now Happy Valley is a different kind of place; it’s jaded, wary and ready to be out of the public eye.
Penn State lost the beloved patriarch of college football, “Joe Pa,” to lung cancer while under the specter of the investigation. Some believe he died of a broken heart after essentially being forced to step down from his position as head football coach.
The Penn State bookstore, which once sold t-shirts with graphics reading “What Happens in Happy Valley Stays in Happy Valley,” has since removed those shirts from their merchandise.
The day before the trial began, Judge John Cleland laid down some ground rules for the parties, based on various pre-trial motions. First, he ruled that the alleged victims who are now adults must testify using their real names, not pseudonyms. The victims who are still minors will have their identities shielded. Secondly, Judge Cleland did not require the prosecutors to turn over information they had collected regarding the jury pool to the defense team. Finally, he instructed media that they would not be permitted to tweet, live-blog or update the case from their mobile devices while in the courtroom.
Sandusky was sentenced on October 9, 2012, to at least 30 years in prison — which at 68-years-old effectively amounts to a life sentence. At the sentencing hearing Sandusky continued to defiantly profess his innocence: “In my heart I know I did not do these … disgusting acts.” He questioned the credibility of his accusers and claimed the young boys’ tales of shower and hotel room assaults were “joined by a well-orchestrated effort of the media, investigators, the system, Penn State, psychologists, civil attorneys, and other accusers.”
Three of the victims spoke at the sentencing hearing, some fighting back tears, as they told the court about the devastation they suffered as a result of Sandusky’s attacks. One victim looked at Sandusky and told him “I am troubled with flashbacks of his naked body, something that will never be erased from my memory.”
“The tragedy of this crime is that it’s a story of betrayal. The most obvious aspect is your betrayal of 10 children,” Judge Cleland told Sandusky. “I’m not going to sentence you to centuries in prison, although the law will permit that.” Still, Cleland said, he expected Sandusky to die in prison.