Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Jerry Sandusky's wife defends him on witness stand

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BELLEFONTE, Pa. — Dottie Sandusky took the witness stand in her husband's defense Tuesday, saying she never knew of any inappropriate behavior by Jerry Sandusky toward any of the eight witnesses who have accused him of sex abuse.

She spoke in a slightly quavering voice but remained composed throughout her 45 minutes on the stand.

Asked if her basement — where witnesses said they were assaulted — is soundproof, she said no.

"How is your hearing?" defense attorney Joseph Amendola asked.

"I think it's pretty good. I hear lots of noises," she said.

She offered a negative assessment of the personalities of a couple of the accusers. For one, a star prosecution witness known in court as "Victim 4," and who said he was abused by the defendant some 15 years ago when he was a boy, she had particularly harsh words: "He was very demanding. And he was very conniving. He wanted his way. He didn't listen a lot."

Of another witness, "Victim 9," she said, "He was a charmer, he knew what to say, when to say it."

She said that she walked in on her husband yelling at Victim 4 — both fully clothed — in a hotel room during a visit to the Alamo Bowl in the late 1990s. The witness said Sandusky tried to force him to perform oral sex and that Dottie Sandusky could be heard outside the bathroom asking what was going on. But she said they were arguing about the boy's refusal to go to a luncheon.

She said her husband said to the boy, whose expenses were paid by the Sanduskys, "We did this for you. You've got to do this."

At the close of her testimony, prosecutor Joseph McGettigan asked if she knew of any reason why the witnesses would lie about her husband.

She was silent for a moment, and turned and looked at her husband, who sat about 15 feet away.

She turned back to the prosecutor and said, "I-I don't know. I don't know what it would be for."

It is unclear if Jerry Sandusky, a former Penn State assistant football coach who has pleaded not guilty to 51 counts related to child sex abuse, will take the stand in his own defense.

Earlier Tuesday, Amendola played a tape in court in which a state trooper investigating Sandusky for alleged sex crimes told a potential accuser that other boys had already come forward with stories of abuse, including oral sex and rape.

Amendola is trying to persuade the jury that the accusers were coached by investigators and may have an incentive to lie or embellish in anticipation of a possible large payout in a civil lawsuit.

Also Tuesday, an expert witness for the defense, psychologist Elliot Atkins, testified that he had diagnosed Sandusky as suffering from a condition called histrionic personality disorder, one characterized by excessive emotionality, need for approval from others and "inappropriate sexually seductive or provocative behavior."

Atkins was permitted to testify in a narrow sense: That this condition explained the letters that Sandusky had written to Victim 4. That witness had called them "creepy love letters." Atkins said he had diagnosed Sandusky after six hours of personal interviews and after giving Sandusky two objective personality tests. Only later did he see the letters, which, he said, "made me feel more confident about my diagnosis."

The judge in his instructions to the jury prior to the Atkins testimony indicated that this "alternative" explanation to the "love letters" should not be interpreted as excusing any particular behavior.

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