HARRISBURG, Pa. — A judge ruled Monday that former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky can have supervised contact with most of his grandchildren, saying there was no evidence the children’s parents wouldn’t be able to keep them safe.
Judge John Cleland also rejected requests by prosecutors that jurors be brought in from outside the State College area to hear the case and that Sandusky remain indoors while on home confinement before trial.
Prosecutors made the bail modification request after hearing concerns by neighbors about child safety, particularly at an elementary school behind Sandusky’s house.
“The commonwealth failed to present any evidence whatsoever that the defendant presents a clearly defined threat to any student at the adjoining elementary school simply by being on his deck,” Cleland wrote. “No evidence was presented that at any time the defendant made any effort to contact any of the children by signaling or calling to them, or that he made any gestures directed toward them, or that he acted in any inappropriate way whatsoever.”
Sandusky faces 52 criminal counts for what prosecutors say was the sexual abuse of 10 boys
over 15 years. He has denied the allegations.
Sandusky’s lawyer issued a statement saying Sandusky, his wife and their family were “relieved by and pleased with” the visitation ruling, which pertains to all but three of his 11 grandchildren, ages 2 to 14. Those three children are involved in a custody case.
Cleland acknowledged jury selection will be a challenge, given the pretrial publicity and the special role Penn State plays in the Centre County community.
“If, after a reasonable attempt it is apparent that a jury cannot be selected within a reasonable time, then I will reconsider this ruling,” he wrote.
Sandusky, 68, was also granted the right to see adult visitors who are cleared by officials.