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Sandusky Hearing: Without More Details, Amendola Will Seek Dismissal of Case

on March 12, 2012 1:06 PM

If state prosecutors can't -- or won't -- soon give the defense more details about Jerry Sandusky's alleged crimes, the defense team will seek a dismissal of the whole case, attorney Joseph Amendola said Monday.

"We're not saying give us all the locations; give us the exact dates; give us the exact times" of Sandusky's alleged sexual abuse," Amendola said in court. "But at least give us something (general) that we can go back and check on."

In a 25-minute hearing in Bellefonte, Amendola said the prosecution has not adequately fulfilled a Feb. 13 court order for pre-trial discovery materials. That order, signed by presiding Judge John M. Cleland, said the the prosecution should identify for Amendola the times, dates and locations of Sandusky's alleged offenses.

Or, in situations where the prosecution cannot provide said details, it should explain why, per the court order. Sandusky, 68, accused of abusing 10 youths over a roughly 15-year period, is facing 52 criminal counts.

For all but three of the alleged victims, Amendola said, prosecutors have said they cannot give precise dates or locations. In some instances, the prosecution has identified months- or years-long periods in which abuse is alleged to have happened.

The boys were in "tender years when their molestation began," state prosecutor Joseph McGettigan said in the Monday hearing. He said some already were suffering psychological problems before the alleged abuse started.

Plus, McGettigan said, their memories have been tainted or suppressed by the passage of time, by the nature of the alleged crimes and by Sandusky's own efforts to keep them quiet. The prosecution has fulfilled the court's order for pre-trial materials as best it can, McGettigan added, calling Amendola's request "unprecedented."

In a brief press conference later, McGettigan said court precedents for admissable evidence in such cases have varied substantially. And "these are truly unique circumstances," he said of the Sandusky case.

McGettigan also said Amendola could have quizzed the alleged victims for specifics during a December preliminary hearing. Sandusky, of College Township, chose to waive that hearing, but that shouldn't place "a burden on the commonwealth" now, McGettigan said.

He declined to get into many details with reporters, saying that he would not litigate the case through the news media.

Earlier, Amendola said the defense wants some general sense of when the alleged offenses happened. Perhaps the victims can remember football games or Second Mile events that happened around the alleged incidents -- something that will help the defense to understand the claims better and to build Sandusky's case, he said.

Sandusky is a former Penn State assistant football coach and founded The Second Mile nonprofit group. He has maintained that he is innocent.

"We're dealing with kids who were 7, 8, 9 years old at the time (of the alleged crimes), and many of them were in their teens," Amendola said. " ... I suggest to the court that if the commonwealth went back to these accusers and said: 'Can you be more specific?'" ... they might recall details.

"All we're asking the court to do is to ask the commonwealth to try a little bit harder," Amendola said.

Without more pre-trial specifics, Amendola said later, Sandusky will be deprived of his constitutional right to due process. Speaking with reporters, he said the defense will seek a dismissal of all charges if the prosecution does not provide more pre-trial information.

Cleland suggested in court that perhaps the identified victims simply can't provide deliver more specifics.

"That's part of it," McGettigan said. But another element, he went on, is that "it's not the football games that stuck out.

"It's the victimization that they suppressed," he said.

Cleland did not issue an immediate ruling Monday morning on Amendola's request, technically a demand for a more-comprehensive Bill of Particulars. Amendola said he expects the judge may issue a decision within a few days.

Sandusky himself did not appear for the Monday proceeding, held in the Courthouse Annex at High and Allegheny streets. (For photos from outside the annex, click on the large image posted above.) Nor did any other witnesses in the case.

Jury selection for an expected trial has been set for May 14.

Earlier coverage is available via the page linked below. For footage from Amendola's remarks to reporters, check this video page.

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