Thursday, April 26, 2018

Judge says Sandusky gets local jury, can see grandkids

HARRISBURG, Pa. — A judge ruled Monday that former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky can have supervised contact with most of his grandchildren, saying there was no evidence that the children's parents wouldn't be able to keep them safe.

Judge John Cleland also rejected requests by prosecutors that jurors be brought in from outside the State College area to hear the case and that Sandusky, 68, remain indoors while on home confinement before trial.

Prosecutors made the bail modification request after hearing concerns by neighbors about the safety of children, particularly at an elementary school behind Sandusky's house.

"The commonwealth failed to present any evidence whatsoever that the defendant presents a clearly defined threat to any student at the adjoining elementary school simply by being on his deck," Cleland wrote.

Sandusky, who was arrested in November, faces 52 criminal counts for what prosecutors say was the sexual abuse of 10 boys over a 15-year period. He has denied the allegations.

Sandusky's lawyer issued a statement saying Sandusky, his wife and their family were "relieved by and pleased with" the visitation ruling, which pertains to all but three of his 11 grandchildren, ages 2 to 14. Those three children are involved in a custody case, and Cleland deferred decisions about any visits from them to the judge handling that matter.

A spokesman for the Attorney General's Office said the judge's orders were being reviewed.

Cleland said jury selection will be a challenge, given the pretrial publicity and the special role that Penn State plays in the Centre County community.

"If, after a reasonable attempt it is apparent that a jury cannot be selected within a reasonable time, then I will reconsider this ruling," Cleland wrote.

Cleland has tentatively scheduled trial to start in mid May.

Cost to university: Penn State said Monday that it had spent $3.2 million on lawyers, consultants and public relations firms in response to the allegations against Sandusky.

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