Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Judge denied Sandusky lawyers' request to resign

BELLEFONTE, Pa. — Jerry Sandusky's lawyers said Saturday they asked to resign from his child sex abuse case on the eve of trial but the judge turned them down.

Karl Rominger and Joe Amendola said that as jury selection began they made a sealed motion saying they had not been given enough time to adequately prepare but Judge John Cleland ruled against them after discussion in his chambers.

"We told the trial court, the Superior Court and the Supreme Court we were not prepared to proceed to trial in June due to numerous issues, and we asked to withdraw from the case for those reasons," Amendola said.

Sandusky, a former Penn State assistant football coach, was convicted Friday on dozens of child sexual abuse charges. His lawyers had said a delay was needed because a key member of the defense team had a scheduling conflict and a lengthy grand jury investigation had inundated them with documents and other materials.

Legal experts say the seven months between Sandusky's arrest and trial on such serious charges is a fast pace by Pennsylvania standards.

Rominger also said Saturday that prosecutors told him on June 14, during the trial's first week, that they obtained a tape of the allegations made by adopted son Matt Sandusky that he also was a victim of abuse by Sandusky. Rominger declined to comment on the details of those allegations but said calling him to the stand might have prompted a mistrial.

He said Matt Sandusky had been expected to be an important witness for the defense, and when such a defense witness becomes a prosecution witness, that can result in a mistrial. The Matt Sandusky evidence and potential testimony was why the prosecution's case was held open during a surprising day off from the trial on June 15 and did not rest until Monday, he said.

Rominger said the lawyers did request a mistrial over the playing in court of a videotaped interview of their client by NBC's Bob Costas because it repeated a brief but significant section while Sandusky was speaking. Rominger said the judge denied the mistrial request, ordered it could not be played again and instead provided jurors with a written transcript.

Jurors in the two-week trial convicted Sandusky of 45 of the 48 counts against him. Mandatory minimums mean Sandusky, 68, likely will die in prison.

One of the jurors on Saturday said the credibility of the accusers who testified they were Sandusky's victims solidified the prosecution's case.

"It's hard to judge character on the stand because you don't know these kids," Joshua Harper told NBC's "Today" show. "But most were very credible — I would say all."

He added: "It was very convincing."

Sandusky's own impassivity as the verdict was read was a confirmation that the jury's decision was the right one, Harper said.

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