Juror: Sandusky lack of emotion confirmed verdicts
BELLEFONTE, Pennsylvania (AP) — Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky’s accusers were credible, and his lack of emotion as the guilty verdicts were read at his child sex abuse trial confirmed the verdicts were the right ones, one juror said Saturday.
Friday’s verdicts brought to an end a shocking scandal that upended the reputation of one of the most prominent college sports programs in the U.S., one that had prided itself on integrity and “Success with Honor” amid ethics problems at other schools.
Sandusky appeared to be accepting his fate “because he knew it was true,” Joshua Harper told NBC’s “Today.”
Sandusky was convicted on 45 of 48 child sex abuse counts involving 10 boys over a 15-year period. The 68-year-old faces life in prison at his sentencing, which is weeks away.
Eight young men, some in tears, testified in sometimes graphic terms about a range of abuse, from kissing and massages to groping, oral sex and anal rape. Prosecutors portrayed Sandusky as a man who used the football team’s reputation and the charity he founded for at-risk youth to find and groom his victims.
“It’s hard to judge character on the stand because you don’t know these kids,” Harper said. “But most were very credible — I would say all.”
“It was very convincing,” he added.
Sandusky’s lawyers on Saturday said they asked to resign from the case on the eve of trial, but the judge turned them down. Defense attorney Karl Rominger said he and co-counsel Joe Amendola made the motion as jury selection began. They have repeatedly argued they didn’t have enough time to properly prepare.
Sandusky did not take the stand in his own defense. He half-waved at his family while being led away in handcuffs. Someone in the crowd outside the courthouse yelled at him to “rot in hell.” Others hurled insults.
The former coach was kept under watch Friday night at the Centre County Correctional Facility, which did not say whether he had visitors Saturday. At his home, his wife and three of their adopted children remained inside Friday night, and the curtains were drawn.
The Penn State program had had a reputation of avoiding the usual pitfalls of American college sports, including payoffs to athletes or academic cheating.
When the Sandusky case emerged last year, the school and the community suddenly had to face the possibility that school officials, including legendary head football coach Joe Paterno, had covered up reports of child sex abuse. Paterno was swiftly fired after the news emerged that a graduate assistant had told him in 2002 about seeing Sandusky sodomizing a boy in the football team’s showers.
Sandusky repeatedly denied the growing allegations, and his defense suggested at trial that his accusers had a financial motive to make up stories.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly thanked the accusers who testified, saying she hoped the verdict “helps these victims heal … and helps other victims of abuse to come forward.”
The accuser known in court papers as Victim 6 broke down in tears upon hearing the verdicts. Afterward, a prosecutor embraced him and said, “Did I ever lie to you?”
The man, now 25, declined to comment to a reporter afterward.
“Nobody wins. We’ve all lost,” his mother said.
One accuser testified that Sandusky molested him in the locker-room showers and in hotels while trying to ensure his silence with gifts. Another spoke of forced oral sex and rape in the basement of Sandusky’s home. He said he once tried to scream for help, knowing that Sandusky’s wife was upstairs, but assumed the basement must be soundproof.
Another, a foster child, said Sandusky warned that he would never see his family again if he ever told anyone what happened.
And just hours after the case went to jurors, lawyers for one of Sandusky’s six adopted children, Matt, said he had told authorities that his father abused him and had been prepared to testify.
In a statement, Penn State praised the accusers who testified and said that it planned to invite the victims of Sandusky’s abuse to participate in a private program to address their concerns and compensate them for claims related to the school.
GENARO C. ARMAS and MARK SCOLFORO
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