PHILADELPHIA — On the eve of a key court hearing, Jerry Sandusky’s lawyer said no plea negotiations have been held and that the former Penn State assistant football coach is ready to face his accusers in the child sex-abuse case.
At least six young men will testify in public for the first time at the hearing, which
could last two days.
Sandusky, 63, is charged with more than 50 counts of child sex-abuse involving 10 boys he met through the children’s charity he founded. A judge will decide whether prosecutors have enough evidence to send the case to trial.
Defense lawyers sometimes waive preliminary hearings to avoid more negative publicity, but Sandusky’s lawyer said the defense is eager to hear from the witnesses and gauge the strength of the case.
“We plan to proceed with Jerry’s hearing, and Jerry is looking forward to the opportunity to face his accusers,” lawyer Joe Amendola said Monday.
He would say only, “Maybe,” when asked whether he would call Sandusky to testify.
A lawyer for one of the teenagers scheduled to testify bristled at Sandusky’s description of the encounters as childplay, or “horsing around.”
“My client said, ‘There’s nothing fun about what happened with me,’” Slade McLaughlin said last week, adding that he believes the scandal has unleashed “a watershed moment” in the understanding of child sexual abuse.
Last month, Sandusky told NBC’s Bob Costas and The New York Times that his relationship to the accusers was like that of an extended family. Sandusky characterized his experiences with the children as “precious times” and said the physical aspect of the relationships “just happened that way” and didn’t involve abuse.
Sandusky retired as Penn State’s longtime defensive coordinator in 1999, a year after the first known abuse allegation reached police. Penn State fired football coach Joe Paterno last month, saying he didn’t do enough to investigate allegations against Sandusky.
In 1998, a mother told investigators that Sandusky had showered with her son during a visit to the Penn State football facilities. Accusations surfaced again in 2002, when graduate assistant Michael McQueary reported another alleged incident of abuse to Paterno and other university officials.
The grand jury probe investigation began only in 2009, after a teen complained that Sandusky, then a volunteer coach at his high school, had abused him.
The two university officials charged with perjury and failure to report abuse – former Penn State athletic director Tim Curley and former university vice president Gary Schultz – face a preliminary hearing Friday in Harrisburg. Prosecutors might need to call McQueary – and perhaps Paterno – to lay out those allegations.