Lawyer: Sandusky has regrets, Oct. sentence likely
HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (AP) — Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky regrets not taking the stand at his child sex abuse trial and likely will be sentenced next month, his defense lawyer said Wednesday.
Attorney Joe Amendola said he has not received a presentence report for Sandusky from the county court system and the defense has not decided whether to contest a recommendation that the 68-year-old be declared a sexually violent predator under Pennsylvania state law, which would subject him to stringent reporting requirements if he’s released on parole.
“The reality is Jerry is going to get a sentence, which, if it’s not reversed on appeal, is going to be tantamount to a life sentence,” Amendola said.
The Sandusky scandal tarnished the legacy of the late Joe Paterno, the Hall of Famer who put Penn State on the U.S. collegiate sports map and coached the Nittany Lions until his firing in November days after his former assistant was arrested on child sex abuse charges. Paterno died of lung cancer in January.
Sandusky maintains his innocence, acknowledging he showered with boys but saying he never molested them, regrets not taking the witness stand to dispute the claims of several young men who accused him of abuse, Amendola said.
“He does now,” Amendola said.
Amendola had suggested in his opening statement to the jury that Sandusky might testify.
Amendola said he has continued to warn Sandusky about plans to make a statement at sentencing to Judge John Cleland because going into specifics could return to haunt him if he eventually gets a new trial.
A tape of an interview Sandusky gave to NBC shortly after his November arrest was played to jurors at his trial. In the interview, Sandusky said he’s not sexually attracted to young boys and shouldn’t have showered with them.
Amendola said anything Sandusky says could be used against him and he has talked to Sandusky “about being cautious.”
Pennsylvania criminal defendants generally are sentenced within three months of conviction, but that can be extended under certain circumstances, and Amendola said the defense needs more time to evaluate whether to contest the recommendation that Sandusky be deemed a sexually violent predator.
A core issue, Amendola said, remains whether Sandusky did not get a fair trial because the judge denied his efforts to delay it.
He said the day Sandusky first was charged in November he was shocked to learn there were more than one or two people prosecutors said were victims — there were eight, with two more added in a second set of charges that followed in December.
Sandusky remains in an isolated unit with 10 or 15 other inmates at the Centre County jail. Most fellow inmates have been “very nice to him,” Amendola said, but one engaged in what the lawyer described as “mouthing off to him one night.”
“Jerry says they’re very sympathetic,” Amendola said. “As a matter of fact, a number of them have said they’re innocent, too.”
Amendola said Sandusky’s visitors have included his wife, family friends, former players and former participants in his charity, The Second Mile. He declined to identify the players, and a message left for the jail warden wasn’t immediately returned.
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