State College, PA - Centre County - Central Pennsylvania - Home of Penn State University

Prosecution Seeks Out-of-County Jury for Planned Sandusky Trial

on January 31, 2012 8:28 PM

Noting "the complete saturation of the Centre County community" by heavy news coverage, state prosecutors sought Tuesday an out-of-county jury for the expected Sandusky trial.

"There can be absolutely no doubt that the media coverage of this matter has been spectacular in its breadth and intensity," reads a prosecution request sent to presiding Judge John M. Cleland. "The nature of the crimes committed, and the location and circumstances of their commission, have catapulted this case into the national conversation."

The request, signed by state Senior Deputy Attorney General Joseph McGettigan, asserts that "people living and working in (Centre County) have a deep psychological and economic investment in Penn State.

"It will not be possible at trial for the Commonwealth to divorce the crimes committed from their context," it goes on. "It is simply a fact that other, even adjacent counties, have a less intimate connection with Penn State. Recent events underscore an association between the community and the university which is admirable but, ultimately, incompatible with jury service."

Jerry Sandusky, 68, of College Township, a former Penn State assistant football coach, is charged with 52 counts in a child-sexual-abuse case. The first of the charges were filed in early November, and prosecutors have alleged that some of the crimes occurred on Penn State property.

Two former university administrators, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, are accused of helping to cover up concerns about Sandusky. All three men have said they are innocent of the charges against them, brought by the state Office of the Attorney General.

The office's request for an out-of-county jury includes no overtures for an out-of-county trial. In fact, it says, "it is logistically impractical to hold the trial anywhere else.

Witnesses live in the county, and "proximity to the scenes involved will be important," the prosecution wrote.

"Second, it is proper and desirable that Centre County be the site of justice in this matter," the document goes on. "Precisely because of the unique relationship between the community and school ... it is important that the trial and verdict unfold there."

Meanwhile, Sandusky attorney Joe Amendola said he will fight the prosecution's pursuit of a non-Centre County jury. In a prepared statement for reporters, he wrote that "Jerry and I have always believed a fair and impartial jury could be selected from a jury pool comprised of Centre County citizens.

"While we have not yet had an opportunity to review the reasons set forth by the attorney general as to why that office has filed a motion ... we are very disappointed with the attorney general's decision to do so," the Amendola statement goes on.

"Jerry's case has drawn national attention as a result of which we feel there's no better place than Centre County from which to select fair-minded individuals to sit as jurors in Jerry's case," it continues. "We will vehemently oppose the Commonwealth's motion for a change of venire."

In other developments Tuesday, prosecutors have said they will comply with a defense request for the identities of the alleged victims in the case, according to the Associated Press. The names will be delivered to Amendola by Friday, according to a prosecution statement cited by the wire service.

A trial date in the Sandusky case has not been formalized.

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