Sandusky Waives Hearing in Sex-Abuse Case
By Sophia Pearson and Ann Woolner – Dec 13, 2011 10:13 AM ET
Jerry Sandusky, the former assistant football coach at Pennsylvania State University, waived a preliminary hearing in his child sex-abuse case, canceling scheduled testimony by some of his accusers.
Magisterial Senior District Judge Robert Scott was to hold a hearing today in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, on whether Sandusky, 67, must face trial on more than 40 counts related to the alleged molestation of 10 boys from 1994 to 2009.
After Sandusky waived the hearing at the start of the session, the judge said he would set a trial date. Eleven witness were set testify today, according to prosecutors. Sandusky, who will remain under house arrest after posting $250,000 bail, has denied any wrongdoing.
“This is terrific for my client, all the other victims who did not have to relive the horror on the stand,” said Michael Boni, a lawyer for one of Sandusky’s accusers, identified in charging documents as Victim 1. Boni said his client was ready to testify.
There are no discussions of a plea deal and Sandusky will proceed to trial, Senior Deputy Attorney General Marc Costanzo said. Sandusky waived arraignment and his next scheduled appearance is a March 22 pretrial conference, according to the court website.
Joseph Amendola, Sandusky’s lawyer, didn’t immediately respond to phone calls and an e-mail seeking comment on his client’s decision to waive the hearing. Sandusky and his family left the courthouse without speaking to reporters.
Sandusky, a former defensive coordinator for Penn State’s Nittany Lions, was charged Nov. 5 with 40 counts related to child molestation. He was rearrested last week and charged with additional crimes after two new accusers came forward. The charges include nine counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, each punishable by as much as 20 years in prison.
Slade McLaughlin, who also represents Victim 1, said Sandusky was within his rights to waive the hearing.
“All it really did was shake up the victims,” he said.
Prosecutors allege Sandusky used the Second Mile, a charity he founded for needy children, to recruit victims, befriending them and “grooming” them with gifts, trips to Penn State football games and money. The alleged victims ranged in age from 10 to 15 when the abuse occurred, according to court documents.
Victim 1, now a high school student, told the grand jury that he met Sandusky through the Second Mile in 2005 or 2006. He would often stay overnight at Sandusky’s residence where “back cracking” became a ritual that led to Sandusky performing oral sex on him more than 20 times from 2007 to early 2008, according to court documents.
Victim 1 broke off contact with Sandusky in 2008 and Sandusky called him more than 100 times between January 2008 and July 2009, according to the grand jury report.
The case against Sandusky led to the firings of university President Graham Spanier and head football coach Joe Paterno, whom Sandusky worked under for 30 years. Paterno and Spanier weren’t charged with any criminal wrongdoing.
Spectators lined up outside the Bellefonte courthouse before 7 a.m. in below-freezing temperatures to get a seat at today’s hearing.
Penn State Students
Among those waiting was Megan Salgel, 23, a senior at Penn State, which is about 10 miles (16 kilometers) away in the town of State College.
“I think it’s really unfortunate circumstances,” Salgel said of the accusations against Sandusky. She said her father, aunts, uncle and cousins all attended Penn State, said before today’s hearing.
Jean Collins, 56, works at the Centre County Resource Center, a crime-victims organization. She wouldn’t say whether her group worked with any of Sandusky’s accusers. She said she came to the hearing because of her interest in victims.
Joe Salvato, 21, of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, said he had come “to witness history.” The Penn State junior called the grand jury report that set out some of the accusations against Sandusky “horrifying.”
Two other Penn State officials, athletic director Timothy Curley and former vice president Gary Schultz, were charged with perjury and failing to report allegations of child sex abuse against Sandusky. Both have denied the charges and are scheduled to appear in court in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, this week.
Howard Janet, the lawyer for an accuser identified in the grand jury report as Victim 6, said his client “was here and prepared to testify.” He said the accuser and his mother had wanted charges filed against Sandusky in 1998. Today was his client’s chance to tell his story, Janet said.
The case is Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Sandusky, MJ- 49201-cr-0000636-2011, Magisterial District Court, Centre County (State College).
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at email@example.com