Sandusky trial’s second week to turn to defense
BELLEFONTE, Pennsylvania (AP) – The defense in Jerry Sandusky’s child sexual abuse trial began putting its own witnesses on the stand Monday, and one could be the former Penn State assistant football coach himself.
The 68-year-old Sandusky faces dozens of counts of sexual abuse of 10 boys over 15 years, allegations he denies. The scandal has rocked one of the country’s most storied sports programs.
Jurors last week heard from eight young men who say he sexually abused them as children. Prosecutors say he met and groomed victims through the charity he founded for at-risk youth. The identities of two other alleged victims have never been learned by investigators.
On Monday, the mother of one alleged victim said her son’s underwear was frequently missing from the laundry and he claimed he’d thrown it away because he had an accident. The mother of the teen called Victim 9 by prosecutors was the last witness they called before rested their case.
The woman’s son testified Thursday that Sandusky had repeatedly forced him to have anal sex that resulted in bleeding. The teen testified that he “just dealt with it.”
The accusers say Sandusky plied them as children with gifts, dazzled them with the prestige of Penn State’s football program and scaled up physical contact, from a hand on the knee or a fatherly kiss to fondling, repeated oral sex and, in some cases, rape.
Prosecutors on Monday dropped one of the 52 counts against Sandusky, citing a timing issue. The encounter involved in the charge occurred in 1995 or 1996, but prosecutors say the statute didn’t apply until 1997. More counts related to the accuser dubbed Victim 7 by prosecutors are still pending.
The defense on Monday asked the judge to dismiss a number of other charges, but those requests were denied.
The defense has sought to show how the stories of accusers have changed over time, that they were prodded and coached by investigators and prosecutors, that some are motivated to lie by the hopes of money from a civil lawsuit, and to paint Sandusky’s interactions with children as misunderstood and part of a lifelong effort to help them, not victimize them.
“Jerry, in my opinion, loves kids so much that he does things none of us would ever do,” defense attorney Joseph Amendola said at the start of the trial.
During cross-examination, at least six accusers said they told incorrect or incomplete stories in early contacts with police, and three testified that some of the details only came back to them in recent years.
In some cases, the witnesses said they were embarrassed or did not want to get dragged into the case, while others spoke of recent improvements in what they recall.
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