Testimony shifts to character witnesses ... Dottie Sandusky |
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
By Terry Whetstone Staff Writer
BELLEFONTE - Dottie Sandusky took the stand yesterday in defense of her husband, Jerry, as the day of testimony was winding down.
She told the jury she and her husband have lived in State College since 1969 when Joe Paterno asked him to come back to help coach the team.
She said he was not home a lot due to helping the team and said he would be away about 12 hours a day. She said she would have dinner ready each night at approximately 6 p.m. or 7 p.m. After Jerry ate, he would spend about an hour with their kids and then go upstairs to work.
Defense Attorney Joe Amendola's questioning then jumped to the late 1990s. Dottie Sandusky said her husband of almost 46 years would travel with the team. On Sundays, they would go to church and then out to eat. He would then disappear for the day, "with the team," she said.
She said Fridays were less busy for the defendant and on Saturdays he would pick up any Second Mile kids who were going to the football game.
Dottie Sandusky said a lot of children stayed at their home and they had a choice where they slept when they spent the night. There were bedrooms in the basement, the first floor and upstairs.
Amendola asked her if she recognized the alleged victims and she said she recognized them, but did not know if they had stayed at the house, nor did she know when.
Amendola also asked if she had ever seen anything unusual. She said she went into a hotel room during one of the bowl games and Jerry and alleged Victim No. 4 were in a dressing room. She said Jerry was upset. She asked him why and he said they had purchased a $50 banquet ticket for the victim and he was refusing to attend the dinner.
"Jerry was upset because he knew I'd be mad that we bought the ticket and he wasn't going to use it," she said. "Jerry was mad and yelling."
Amendola asked if she had ever seen any inappropriate contact between Sandusky and the children he had with him.
She said she did not, but one evening while watching a television program, alleged Victim No. 1 jumped in a chair with Sandusky. Then one time when the Sanduskys were invited to watch a wrestling match, alleged Victim No. 1 ran across the gymnasium and jumped into Sandusky's arms.
Amendola asked if she ever went into the basement. She said usually once a day and she did not think the basement was soundproof. She never heard any screaming or yelling.
Last summer, alleged Victim No. 6 called Sandusky and asked if he could bring his baby over to visit. Dottie Sandusky said they went to Cracker Barrel and had a nice visit.
During his cross examination, Senior Deputy Attorney General Joseph McGettigan III asked how often alleged Victim No. 9 stayed at the house. She said he did not stay frequently, but he had stayed a few times.
Dottie Sandusky said alleged Victim No. 6 had his problems, he wanted his way, he was demanding and he did not listen.
She said alleged Victim No. 1 was clingy to Sandusky and he would not look people in the eye. She said alleged Victim No. 7 was no problem and alleged Victim No. 9 was a charmer. She said he knew what to say and when to say it.
Dr. Elliott Atkins, expert witness for the defense, also took the stand in the afternoon. He testified that he interviewed Jerry Sandusky for approximately 6½ hours and has determined the defendant has histrionic personality disorder.
Atkins said he read the letters Sandusky had written to the alleged victims and said the letters confirmed his diagnosis.
During cross, McGettigan asked how much it cost to retain Atkins, to which the witness replied $375 an hour, and Amendola was footing the bill.
Atkins told McGettigan that HPD has been a part of Sandusky's life since adolescence. In his expert opinion, he said Sandusky always had to be the center of attention, but he said Sandusky was extremely functional considering he has HPD.
Later in the day the Commonwealth called its expert witness to the stand, Dr. John O'Brien II, a psychiatrist who performs pre-trial evaluations on individuals.
He said he interviewed Sandusky and reviewed the reports. He said the outcome of the trial could be very detrimental to Sandusky and he knows that.
O'Brien said he can't see anything that indicates that Sandusky has histrionic personality disorder.
Amendola called approximately nine character witnesses to the stand including Lance Mehl, who played football for Penn State in the late 1970s, then went on to play for the New York Jets. Like Mehl, most of the witnesses said Sandusky was well-respected and looked up to by everyone who knew him. The witnesses said he never knew anyone to have a bad word about Sandusky.
Amendola called the mother of alleged Victim No. 1 to the stand and asked if she ever told her neighbor, Josh Fravel, that she would make a lot of money or end up with a big home from the Sandusky case. She denied making that statement. She said she retained an attorney to keep the media away from her son.
She said only Fravel knew her address and he was asked not to tell anyone where she moved, but she found out he was telling people and she said he was asking her for money to keep from sharing that address.
Fravel was the next one on the stand and he said he heard alleged Victim No. 1 and his mother arguing that she wanted him to go with Sandusky one evening and he refused and then went into the house. She went in after him and eventually went outside and asked Fravel how to find out if Sandusky was a sex offender. He said she told him she would own Sandusky's house when this was over and she would get a big house of her own.
Karl Rominger called Cpl. Scott Rossman and Cpl. Joseph Leiter to the stand at different times to discuss a recording that was made during the interviewing of alleged Victim No. 4 at the police station. The recording was apparently left on during a break and it was played yesterday.
Rominger had asked if the officers had ever told the alleged victims about some of the claims made by the other victims and they said they did not believe they had.
Rossman said when they went to interview alleged Victim No. 4, he was curled up in a fetal position on his couch, scared and nervous.
Judge John Cleland anticipates the testimony will conclude today and the jury could possibly begin deliberations Thursday.