Sandusky asks judge to overturn abuse convictions
BELLEFONTE, Pa. (AP) – Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky asked a judge on Thursday to overturn his child sexual abuse convictions and grant him a new trial, claiming his lawyers lacked sufficient time to prepare and the statute of limitations for some charges had expired.
Sandusky’s lawyers made the filing at the courthouse in Bellefonte where he was sentenced two weeks ago to 30 to 60 years in prison after being convicted of abusing 10 boys, some on Penn State’s campus in State College.
“The defendant submits the court’s sentence was excessive and tantamount … to a life sentence, which the defendant submits is in violation of his rights,” they wrote.
The 31-page set of motions, technically not appeals because they were filed with the trial judge, cover a wide range of assertions, including insufficient evidence, improper use of hearsay testimony and erroneous rulings from the bench.
More than a third of the document explores ways Sandusky believes the rapid pace of the case violated his right to due process of law, as he went from arrest to trial in just over seven months. His lawyers said they were swamped by documents from prosecutors, they lacked time to interview possible witnesses and an expert and two assistants were not available at trial.
The document said Judge John Cleland ruled improperly concerning the use of a computer-generated drawing of an accuser and issued incorrect jury instructions. It also raised issues about prosecutors’ closing argument, the vagueness of the charges, the sequestration of jurors and the amount of restitution ordered.
A spokesman for the attorney general’s office said the Sandusky filing was under review.
Sandusky remains in the county jail, awaiting a transfer to a state prison. Eight young men testified against him in June, describing a range of abuse they said included fondling and oral and anal sex when they were boys.
Sandusky didn’t testify at his trial but has consistently maintained his innocence in interviews and at sentencing.
Also Thursday, People magazine said an accuser identified in court papers as Victim 1, whose claims of being abused by Sandusky began the investigation in late 2008 and who testified against him at trial, gave an interview in which he spoke out publicly by name for the first time.
Aaron Fisher, 18, told the magazine he decided to come forward with a book to tell other victims it is better to tell people about abuse than remain silent. Fisher, who’s expected to appear on ABC on Friday, said he and Sandusky’s other victims “had a very long battle to see justice done.”
Sandusky, 68, built a reputation as one of the country’s premier defensive coaches while serving under head coach Joe Paterno, including two national championships. That image was shattered last year by his arrest.
The abuse scandal rocked Penn State, bringing down Paterno and the university’s president and leading the NCAA, college sports’ governing body, to levy unprecedented sanctions against the university’s football program.
Two Penn State administrators were charged as a result of the investigation into the Sandusky allegations, accused of lying to the grand jury that investigated Sandusky and not reporting suspected child abuse to the proper authorities. Those two officials, athletic director Tim Curley, who is on administrative leave, and retired vice president Gary Schultz, await trial in January and maintain their innocence.
Former FBI Director Louis Freeh, hired by university trustees to conduct an investigation into the university’s handling of abuse complaints against Sandusky, concluded that Paterno, who died in January, ousted president Graham Spanier, Curley and Schultz concealed a 2001 allegation against Sandusky to protect Penn State from bad publicity.
The late coach’s family, as well as Spanier, Curley and Schultz, dispute Freeh’s assertions.
GENARO C. ARMAS
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