Sandusky defense begins|
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
By Terry Whetstone Staff Writer
BELLEFONTE - The Commonwealth vs. Jerry Sandusky entered its second week yesterday with the prosecution putting one final witness on the stand.
The mother of alleged Victim No. 9 took the stand and said she initially thought it was a great idea for her son to go with Sandusky because he was a public figure, a well-known person and a football coach.
She said her son called her one evening to pick him up. She said he was sick, had stomach problems and problems going to the bathroom. She took him to the doctor and was told he had acid reflux and "bad" nerves.
She testified she tried numerous times to get him to go with Sandusky again, but he would always refuse, simply saying he did not want to go.
The boy began doing poorly in school, was sick a lot and his attitude changed.
The young man graduated from high school this year.
With a trembling voice, the woman said she would never ask her son what Sandusky had done to him, she feared it was too painful for him to talk about it.
Her son's school principal notified the police and the witness said she did not know who to call or what to tell them.
She said she could never find her son's underwear when she did the laundry and she would ask him where they were. According to the witness, the boy would tell her he had an accident and threw them away.
Last week the young man testified that Sandusky had raped him in the basement of the Sandusky home.
During cross examination, defense attorney Joe Amendola asked the mother about phone calls Sandusky made to the home. She said she asked her son what Sandusky wanted because the calls were coming late at night, and he simply said Sandusky was asking him to "sign an affidavit or something like that, sticking up for him and saying what he was like," she said.
At 10:44 a.m. the prosecution rested.
The defense first called Richard D. Anderson to the stand. Anderson said he is retired but had worked for Penn State University in the past as a coach. He said he was good friends with Sandusky and they never lost touch.
He testified the coaches are with the players for 15-17 hours a day, from early in the morning until about 10-11 p.m. each night.
He said all of the coaches were expected to be at the team meetings and if they were not it was quite noticeable. Amendola asked if there was time to play racquetball and do other recreational activities. And the witness said there was not.
Anderson said the coaches had a responsibility to recruit players and had to attend speaking engagements, dinners, banquets and more.
He also noted that there was not much travel required on the weekends.
Anderson described Sandusky as having a great reputation in the community.
On cross examination, Senior Deputy Attorney General Joseph McGettigan III asked Anderson if he ever showered with children and he said he did, all the time. McGettigan asked when and Anderson noted every time he is at the YMCA.
"OK, well, do you hug them?" McGettigan asked. To which Anderson replied he does not.
Anderson said he often saw Sandusky with children as he would involve the children from the Second Mile Club in Penn State activities.
McGettigan then showed numerous photos to Anderson which included one of the alleged victims. Anderson repeated every time he did not know who the boy was.
"He pretty much established he doesn't know who the little boy is," Judge John Cleland said. "Are you planning to go through all of the photos?"
McGettigan said he had about six more.
On re-direct, Amendola asked Anderson if there was a difference between little boys and adolescents to which McGettigan objected. "You opened this door," Cleland told McGettigan.
A second witness, Booker T. Brooks Jr. of Pennsylvania Furnace, said he worked at Penn State until 1983 when he left to go to Oregon State.
Brooks said he figures he would have been fired about three months ago had he stayed at Penn State, "because anytime the head guy gets fired, you get fired, too," he said.
He said Sandusky is well known in the coaching world and they know his reputation.
Brooks said he has often showered with young children and said he showers with them at the YMCA all the time, "It's common across the country," he said. "And you typically shower after a workout, whether it's swimming or working out at the gym."
He also noted he has never showered with his clothes on.
During cross-examination McGettigan asked how long Brooks had known Sandusky and he said since 1968, saying Sandusky is a "great guy."
Brooks again said he showers with children. "I always shower with my granddaughter," he told the jury.
McGettigan asked him if he had a grandson and granddaughter, to which he said yes, and McGettigan asked him if he thought it would be wrong for someone to call him up and offer to take his grandson somewhere, then shower with him and hug him.
"Yes, I do," he said. "If that's the way it happened."
Witness Brett Witmer from Bellefonte is a teacher in the Bellefonte School District and volunteers at the Snow Shoe Youth Center.
He said once Sandusky went to the center to pick up or meet alleged Victim No. 4 and the boy never showed up.
He said Sandusky told him that when children are in the type of home environment as Victim No. 4, these things happen.
Cleland then ended the day, noting there were "technical issues" that need to be resolved with some of the witnesses. Cleland said he anticipates the defense wrapping up about noon on Wednesday and handing over everything to the jury to begin deliberating.
He also told the jury they will be sequestered during the deliberations.
Earlier in the day, prosecutors told Cleland they were dropping one of the 52 counts, that of felony unlawful contact with the accuser known as alleged Victim No. 7. Prosecutor Frank Fina said the statute he was charged under did not cover the time frame when the alleged act occurred.
Cleland ruled against defense motions Monday that charges were too vague or nonspecific to defend, and that there is not solid evidence of the ages of two alleged victims.