Son accuses Sandusky of abuse as jury deliberates
BELLEFONTE, Pennsylvania (AP) – New accusations of abuse were leveled against Jerry Sandusky by a pair of new accusers, including his adopted son, as jurors deliberated for more than eight hours on charges the former Penn State assistant football coach sexually abused 10 boys over a 15-year period.
The charges against Sandusky have shocked Americans and marred the reputation of the highly regarded university in a nation where college sports is revered.
Just a few hours into deliberations, Matt Sandusky – one of Sandusky’s six adopted children – came forward for the first time to say in a statement that his father had abused him. The statement didn’t detail the abuse allegation.
Meanwhile, Travis Weaver, a man suing Jerry Sandusky, told NBC’s “Rock Center with Brian Williams” that Sandusky abused him more than 100 times over four years starting in 1992, when he was 10.
Weaver, 30, was named as John Doe in the lawsuit filed in Philadelphia in November.
Sequestered during deliberations, the jury was under orders from Judge John Cleland to ponder only the case placed in their hands Thursday afternoon after hearing starkly different portrayals of the case’s facts during closing remarks. Deliberations were scheduled to resume at 9 a.m. (1300 GMT) Friday.
Prosecutors have called the 68-year-old Sandusky “a serial, predatory pedophile” whose charity for at-risk youth, The Second Mile, was his source of likely victims who would be dazzled by gifts, grateful for his attention and – perhaps most importantly – unlikely to speak up. His arrest in November ignited a scandal at Penn State that led to the dismissals of beloved Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno and the university’s president.
“He molested and abused and hurt these children horribly,” Senior Deputy Attorney General Joseph McGettigan III told the jury in closing statements Thursday. “He knows he did it and you know he did it.
“Find him guilty of everything.”
The defense portrayed Sandusky as the hapless victim of a conspiracy to convict him of heinous crimes. They explain the 48 charges against him as the result of an investigatory team out for blood and accusers who willingly played along in hopes of securing a big payday.
“They went after him, and I submit to you they were going to get him hell or high water, even if they had to coach witnesses,” defense attorney Joe Amendola said in his animated and impassioned closing remarks.
The elder Sandusky, who faces life in prison if convicted of the allegations, smiled and chuckled to himself as prosecutors wrapped up closing remarks. His wife, Dottie, leaned forward in her seat with a concerned look, resting her chin in her hands.
Some of the eight accusers who testified described showering with the longtime assistant; others spoke of lengthy relationships featuring lavish gifts and out-of-state trips. One testified he felt at times like Sandusky’s son, at others his “girlfriend.”
A second accuser – a foster child at the time authorities say he was abused – said Sandusky threatened he would never see his biological family again if he told anyone he was forced to perform sex acts but later took it back and claimed to love him.
One accuser testified to receiving what he called “creepy love letters” from Sandusky. “I know that I have made my share of mistakes,” read one handwritten note. “However, I hope that I will be able to say that I cared. There has been love in my heart.”
The defense said the longwinded letters were simply the manifestation of a personality disorder characterized by excessive emotionality and attention seeking.
Two people who prosecutors say were sexually abused by Sandusky haven’t been identified. The charges related to them come through other witnesses, including Mike McQueary, a former assistant coach who said he saw Sandusky having anal sex with a boy in a football facility shower. It was McQueary’s testimony that touched off the massive scandal that rocked Penn State and forced a re-examination of the role of college administrators in reporting abuse allegations.
After more than eight hours of deliberations Thursday night, the jury returned briefly to the courtroom to ask Cleland if they could rehear testimony from McQueary and Dr. Jonathan Dranov, a friend of the McQueary family who testified that McQueary gave him a different account of what he saw.
Cleland told the jurors that McQueary’s testimony was about two hours in length and Dranov’s was about 20 minutes long and suggested they revisit the McQueary testimony Friday.
Sandusky has denied the allegations, but did not testify in his own defense. Jurors are aware, however, of the denials he gave “Rock Center” just after his arrest. In it, Sandusky seemed to stumble at times and struggled to give direct answers to questions about his conduct.
Asked if he was sexually attracted to boys, Sandusky told NBC’s Bob Costas: “Sexually attracted, you know, I, I enjoy young people. I, I love to be around them. … No, I’m not sexually attracted to young boys.”
McGettigan seized on that in closing arguments, saying: “I would think that the automatic response, if someone asks you if you’re a criminal, a pedophile, a child molester, or anything along those lines, would be: ‘You’re crazy. No. Are you nuts?'”
Prosecutors said Sandusky used gifts and the allure of Penn State’s vaunted football program to attract and abuse vulnerable boys who came from troubled homes, often ones without a father figure in the house.
As during his opening statements, McGettigan during his closing arguments put up smiling pictures of eight accusers when they were children; all testified at trial that Sandusky molested them. Standing behind Sandusky, McGettigan implored the jury for a conviction.
“What you should do is come out and say to the defendant that he molested and abused and give them back their souls,” McGettigan told jurors. “I give them to you. Acknowledge and give them justice.”
Amendola argued that Sandusky was targeted by investigators who coached accusers into making false claims about a generous man whose charity gave them much-needed love.
“So out of the blue (after) all these years, when Jerry Sandusky is in his mid-50s, he decides to become a pedophile? Does that make sense to anybody?” Amendola asked rhetorically.
Closing arguments came after seven days of testimony, some of it explicitly describing abuse suffered at the hands of Sandusky, including touching in showers, fondling and in some cases forced oral or anal sex.
The jury, which includes nine people with ties to Penn State, had already begun deliberating when Matt Sandusky’s attorneys issued a statement alleging that Sandusky abused one of his six adopted children.
“During the trial, Matt Sandusky contacted us and requested our advice and assistance in arranging a meeting with prosecutors to disclose for the first time in this case that he is a victim of Jerry Sandusky’s abuse,” Andrew Shubin and Justine Andronici said in the statement. “At Matt’s request, we immediately arranged a meeting between him and the prosecutors and investigators.
“This has been an extremely painful experience for Matt and he has asked us to convey his request that the media respect his privacy. There will be no further comment.”
Karl Rominger, one of Jerry Sandusky’s lawyers, declined to comment.
Matt Sandusky went to live with Sandusky and his wife as a foster child and was adopted by them as an adult.
Shortly after Jerry Sandusky’s arrest, Matt Sandusky’s ex-wife went to court to keep her former father-in-law away from their three young children. Jill Jones successfully obtained a restraining order forbidding the children from sleeping over at their grandparents’ home.
Around the same time, details emerged that Matt Sandusky had attempted suicide just four months after first going to live with the couple in 1995. He had come into the home through The Second Mile.
GENARO C. ARMAS
Associated Press writers Michael Rubinkam and Maryclaire Dale contributed to this report.
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