News guide to Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse trial
Jerry Sandusky’s trial moved briskly this week as accusers, a former team assistant who said he witnessed Sandusky assaulting a boy, a Penn State janitor and others described alleged sexual abuse by the retired Penn State assistant football coach. The 68-year-old Sandusky has pleaded not guilty.
Q: WHAT ARE THE CHARGES?
A: Sandusky is charged with 52 counts of child sex abuse involving 10 alleged victims over a 15-year span dating back to the mid-1990s. The charges are 11 counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, nine counts of indecent assault, 10 counts of unlawful contact with a minor, 10 counts of corruption of minors, 10 counts of endangering a child’s welfare, one count of aggravated indecent assault and one count of attempted indecent assault.
Q: IF SANDUSKY IS CONVICTED, WHAT KIND OF PUNISHMENT COULD HE RECEIVE?
A: If the jury finds him guilty of all charges, the maximum possible sentence would add up to about 500 years.
Q: WHO ARE HIS ACCUSERS? WHAT DO THEY HAVE IN COMMON?
A: The eight known accusers, who now range in age from 18 to 28, met Sandusky through The Second Mile, a charity he founded for helping children from troubled or single-parent families. Their testimony described how Sandusky bought them gifts, took them to football games and had them stay in a spare bedroom in his home for overnight sleepovers. Investigators say they don’t know the identities of the two other alleged victims.
Q: HOW HAS SANDUSKY EXPLAINED HIS ACTIONS?
A: Sandusky has acknowledged publicly that he “horsed around” with young boys, showered with them after workouts, hugged them and had other physical contact but said he never acted with sexual intent. He said in interviews after his arrest that he is not a pedophile but in retrospect realizes that he should not have showered with the boys.
Q: WHAT COULD BE EXPECTED FROM THE DEFENSE TEAM?
A: In his opening statement to the jury, defense attorney Joseph Amendola said the accusers’ allegations are flimsy and suggested that some of them have a financial stake in the outcome because they want to sue Sandusky and others. During cross-examination, Amendola also tried to undermine the credibility of the young men, as well as former football team assistant Mike McQueary, who testified seeing Sandusky naked in a shower with a boy in 2001.
Amendola also suggested some of his client’s interactions with boys are not indicative of pedophilia but of histrionic personality disorder, a condition in which someone behaves in a dramatic fashion to get attention. It’s unknown if Sandusky will testify in his own defense or whether his wife, Dottie, will take the stand in support of her husband.
Q: WHY IS THERE NO LIVE-TWEETING OR VIDEO COVERAGE OF THE TRIAL?
A: Judge John Cleland, who was brought in from a county 80 miles away to preside over the proceedings, barred reporters from sending any electronic transmission from inside the courtroom or a nearby media center where dozens of reporters are watching the proceedings. The restriction is not unusual in Pennsylvania courtrooms.
Also, Pennsylvania Supreme Court regulations prohibit all types of cameras and broadcasting equipment in courtrooms during criminal proceedings. The rules give judges in the state’s appellate courts discretion to allow cameras, but only in nonjury, civil proceedings.
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