Sandusky Trials Second Week To Turn To Defense

06.18.12 | Bob Price

Sandusky's lawyer suggested in opening statements that Sandusky, 68, may take the stand, although that is a risk that defense attorneys often avoid.

Prosecutors could finish presenting their case as early as Monday morning. Last week they called 20 witnesses to the stand, including eight men who claims Sandusky abused them as boys.

The gripping, sometimes graphic testimony included details about gifts and trips to Penn State games that prosecutors sought to tie to escalating physical contact that started out as harmless affection and morphed into forced sex acts.

(AP) Jerry Sandusky walks to his house with Attorney Karl Rominger, Sunday, June 17, 2012, in Lemont,...
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Defense attorneys have already gotten approval to argue that letters and other acts of alleged grooming by Sandusky are evidence of a personality disorder.

Jurors have already heard Sandusky deny the abuse allegations, in the form of an audio recording of a stilted television interview Sandusky conducted shortly after his November arrest.

Defense attorney Joseph Amendola's opening statement, court documents and four days of witness cross-examination provide something of a road map to a strategy aimed at creating enough doubt in jurors' minds to avoid a conviction that could send Sandusky to prison for life.

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 a civil lawsuit jackpot, and to paint Sandusky's interactions with children as misunderstood and part of a lifelong effort to help, not victimize, them.

In a recent court filing, Sandusky's lawyers have asked the judge to allow them to put before jurors the out-of-court statements made by former Penn State president Graham Spanier and Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, two university administrators who are fighting criminal charges they lied to the Sandusky grand jury and did not properly report suspected child abuse. If permitted, that could help Sandusky undercut the credibility of a witness who says he saw Sandusky sexually abusing a yet-unidentified boy in a team shower more than a decade ago. The judge has not ruled on the request.

The defense also wants Judge John Cleland to allow into evidence the entire contents of "Touched," Sandusky's autobiography, saying in a court motion that the entire book would "contextualize the quotes and avoid misleading characterizations," although so far prosecutors have used the book as a source of photos, not quotes.

During cross-examination, Amendola pressed the accusers for dates and locations, details of their involvement with the kids' charity Sandusky founded, arrests or drug problems, contacts they had with Sandusky in the years since the alleged abuse ended and the terms of representation deals with civil lawyers. At least six 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.

During jury selection Sandusky's lawyers asked potential jurors about ties to a list of people who might be witnesses, including members of coach Joe Paterno's family and Dottie Sandusky. It is unclear, however, which of them will take the stand.