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Awkward Silences in Bellefonte as Media Descend for Sandusky Hearing

by on December 14, 2011 8:42 AM

Just after 5 a.m. Tuesday, a small restaurant across the street from the Centre County Courthouse turned on its lights, opening five hours early to serve the reporters who were filing early-morning stories and preparing for the day’s events.

Outside the diner, police set up traffic cones, more lights from local shops opening up began to flicker, illuminating the sidewalks and alleys.

Despite the activity, there was relative silence in downtown Bellefonte, the only noises coming from the whirring generators of the news trucks. In a day that was supposed to be full of answers, silence dominated the conversation.

Behind the courthouse, a pathway lined with photographers, police and onlookers anxiously awaited the arrival of a cast of characters that had captured the attention of viewers nationwide. Except for the crackle of a sheriff’s walkie-talkie, and the occasional shutter of a camera, it, too, was silent. As Jerry Sandusky exited his car, a single voice broke the silence.

“Are you ready to face those who accused you, Jerry?” the voice said.

The response was a glance toward the cameras and a hurried walk into the courtroom out of the cold December air.

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As the sun slowly peaked over the horizon, more reporters filled up what little room was left on the courthouse lawn.

The growing buzz outside the courthouse was once again turned to calm as the news from inside reached the crowd: Sandusky had waived his right to a preliminary hearing. The alleged victims would not testify. Not today.

A press conference was held on the courthouse steps by Sandusky lawyer Joseph Amendola, who addressed the media and launched a long-awaited dialogue. Sandusky himself never addressing the crowd, but his message could be heard loudly through Amendola’s exclamation that he will "fight to the death" for his freedom.

As the morning rolled in to the early afternoon, Bellefonte began to ease back to normalcy. Media members filed stories and police officers cleared the streets.

A Dairy Queen across from the courthouse was home to much of the activity, but yet again, it was silent.

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Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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