BELLEFONTE, PA. — Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky stunned a packed courtroom and backed out of a preliminary hearing at the last minute Tuesday, avoiding a face-to-face confrontation with accusers who his lawyer said were trying to cash in by making up stories of child sex abuse.
Sandusky came to court with alumni from the charity he's accused of using to lure victims, pleaded not guilty and vowed to "stay the course, to fight for four quarters."
His lawyer, Joe Amendola, then spoke before dozens of news cameras on the courthouse steps, saying some of the 10 young men who accuse Sandusky of molesting them as children were only out to profit from lawsuits against the coach and Penn State.
A prosecutor said about 11 witnesses, most of them Sandusky's alleged victims, were ready to testify at the hearing.
An attorney for one called Sandusky a "coward" for not hearing his accusers' testimony and derided the arguments that they were out for money, saying many were too old to sue Sandusky under Pennsylvania's statute of limitations.
"It makes my blood boil," said Harrisburg lawyer Ben Andreozzi, who read a statement by his client, identified in a grand jury report as Victim 4.
Sandusky, 67, faces 52 criminal counts for what a grand jury called a series of sexual assaults and abuse of 10 boys dating to the 1990s.
The charges led to the firings of coach Joe Paterno, the university's president and charges against administrators accused of lying to a grand jury and failing to report the suspected abuse.
Amendola said he decided to waive the preliminary hearing Monday after concluding that the evidence would be one-sided.
Sandusky entered a not guilty plea and asked for a jury trial, his lawyer said. A pretrial conference was set for March.