Sunday, May 20, 2018

At Sandusky trial, old friends say showers with boys routine, harmless

BELLEFONTE, Pa. — Jerry Sandusky's attorneys opened their client's defense Monday by calling to the stand two former coaching colleagues who said it was routine for adults and boys to shower together in large public locker rooms.

Richard Anderson, a college teammate and Penn State coaching colleague of Sandusky's, was the first to testify, and he vouched for the defendant's "wonderful" reputation. When asked by prosecutor Joseph McGettigan III whether he'd seen Sandusky showering with boys, Anderson answered, "Yes. I have also."

McGettigan seemed surprised by the response and asked Anderson a flurry of follow ups.

"Eleven-year-olds?" McGettigan said.

Yes, Anderson said.

"That you didn't know?'

"Yes."

Anderson said, "I do it all the time." He added, "There are regularly young boys at the YMCA showering at the same time that there are older people showering."

Sandusky, however, is accused of doing more than showering in the company of young boys. He's accused of molesting them. Prosecutors say the assaults occurred in Penn State facilities, in hotel rooms and at Sandusky's home and involved 10 boys over the course of 15 years. Sandusky has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The case is moving more rapidly than anyone had anticipated. Judge John Cleland originally predicted a three-week trial, but he surprised the packed courtroom early Monday afternoon by adjourning for the day, saying the defense would probably rest Wednesday and that the two sides could present closing arguments Thursday morning. The jury will have a long list of charges to sort through, but a verdict by the end of the week seems possible.

There has been much speculation that Sandusky's wife, Dottie, could testify in his defense. His attorney, Joseph Amendola, implied during opening statements last week that Sandusky himself would take the stand. And the defense has steadily suggested that the alleged victims have been inconsistent in their stories and may be motivated by the possibility of a big payout in civil suits.

But when the defense finally got its turn Monday, it presented only a few character witnesses who spoke in general terms about Sandusky's reputation.

"A lot of us were inspired by the way Jerry could relate to youth and get to their level," testified David Pasquinelli, a former consultant for the Second Mile, the charity Sandusky founded to help troubled kids.

The two coaches spent much of their time on the stand discussing showering habits in locker rooms. Anderson said he'd never seen Sandusky do anything inappropriate. That was echoed by Booker Brooks, who also coached alongside Sandusky at Penn State when both were assistants to the late Joe Paterno.

Sandusky is charged with 51 counts related to child sex abuse. Prosecutors dropped one charge Monday morning because of the statute of limitations.

The prosecution rested at 10:42 a.m. Monday after calling one last witness, the mother of "Victim 9," who testified Thursday that Sandusky had abused him repeatedly for four years during weekend sleepovers at Sandusky's house. (By the judge's order, the alleged victims have been identified in court by their full names, but media organizations are not doing so to protect their privacy.)

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