Saturday, December 16, 2017

Accusers to be unmasked at Sandusky trial

The young men who accuse former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky of molesting them have been allowed to remain anonymous through months of intense news coverage of the scandal.

That's about to change.

When they take the witness stand in a packed Bellefonte, Pa., courtroom as early as next week, the alleged victims will be forced to state their names for the record — traumatizing them all over again, their lawyers and victims advocates say.

Because 85 courtroom seats are reserved for the public, their identities could easily become common knowledge via social media and the Internet — even though most traditional media organizations have long-standing policies against using the names of alleged victims of sexual assault.

Up to now, the accusers have been identified in court papers as "Victim 1," "Victim 2" and so on.

Five of the eight who could be called to the stand asked Judge John Cleland to let them testify under pseudonyms, saying through their lawyers that revealing their names would subject them to shame, ridicule and harassment.

And a coalition of advocacy groups argued that removing their anonymity would have a chilling effect on victims' willingness to report abuse.

But the judge said there is no authority in Pennsylvania law to allow the alleged victims to remain anonymous.

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