Judge denies motions to toss Sandusky sex charges
BELLEFONTE, Pa. (AP) — The judge overseeing Jerry Sandusky’s child sex abuse case on Friday denied the defense’s request to have the charges dismissed, leaving all 52 counts intact with opening statements three days away.
Judge John Cleland’s three-paragraph order didn’t explain why he turned down a set of defense motions.
Sandusky’s attorney had asked for all charges to be thrown out or at least for Cleland to conduct a hearing to see if some charges were supported by sufficient facts.
Sandusky, 68, a retired assistant Penn State football coach, is accused of sexually abusing 10 boys over a 15-year span, allegations he has consistently denied.
It was a severe blow to the defense, which argued that some charges relied on impermissible hearsay, others didn’t allege actual crimes and some were too vague to be able to effectively defend. The defense efforts to dismiss may return once the prosecution has put on its case.
Defense attorney Karl Rominger and a spokesman for the attorney general’s office both declined to comment.
A jury of 16, including four alternates, was seated this week, and a majority disclosed ties to Penn State. The trial inside a rural central Pennsylvania courthouse near the Penn State campus is expected to last several weeks.
Sandusky’s arrest in November rocked the sports world as a grand jury returned a report accusing him of grooming, then sexually assaulting, boys through a charity he founded. The grand jury found that some of the abuse happened at Penn State’s football facilities.
Legendary head football coach Joe Paterno was fired just days after Sandusky was charged along with two Penn State administrators, who were accused of perjury and failing to report suspected abuse. Penn State trustees have said Paterno should have done more after an assistant told him of an encounter between Sandusky and a boy inside a team shower.
Paterno’s abrupt dismissal touched off riots in the town of State College, an area often referred to as Happy Valley.
Key prosecution witnesses expected to testify include many of the accusers and Mike McQueary, the then-graduate assistant who has said he saw Sandusky and a boy naked in a team shower in 2001. McQueary has testified that it appeared to him that Sandusky was sexually assaulting the child.
Paterno, who died of lung cancer less than three months after his firing, passed the McQueary report on to his boss, athletic director Tim Curley.
Curley and former vice president Gary Schultz were charged with perjury and failing to report suspected child abuse in connection with McQueary’s report. They are awaiting trial and maintain their innocence.
The grand jury’s reports — a second was issued with additional charges in December — said Sandusky had frequent illicit contact with boys he met through his charity, The Second Mile, in the mid-1990s through 2008, when an allegation of abuse at a local high school where Sandusky volunteered as a coach prompted an investigation that produced the 52 charges.
In interviews following his arrest, Sandusky acknowledged showering with young boys and embracing them naked, but he denied sexually abusing them.
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