Sandusky Trial: Alleged Victim No. 4 Leaves Defense with Uphill Battle after Day 1
Trials are not won and lost in one day. A revolving door of witnesses and testimony must pass before considering guilt on 52 counts in this child sex abuse case.
Jerry Sandusky’s lead defense attorney, Joe Amendola, compared the daunting task of clearing his client’s name to climbing Mount Everest.
And Day 1 saw little progress.
That was mostly thanks to alleged victim No. 4, who took the stand for a little less than four hours and was solid — Everest solid — in shutting down key elements of the defense’s strategy.
He said he learned another accuser lived in his apartment complex about a month or two ago. But . . .
“I never knew him,” said the man, who is now 28 and dressed in a floppy white dress shirt and skinny black tie. “We were never friends. I would say he despised me.”
He scoffed a bit when denying the two ever spoke on the phone about the allegations against Sandusky and the potential money that could await because Penn State’s name is attached to this.
Even acknowledging the fact he had a lawyer before he ever spoke to law enforcement about Sandusky did little for Amendola’s cross-examination.
The accuser’s father, who was hardly ever there for him, arranged to have the lawyer contact him after he heard about the allegations.
“To be honest, when this came to light, [the lawyer] came to me,” the alleged victim said. “I didn’t tell him anything. I didn’t want anything to do with this. I hid it forever.”
Let’s be blunt. Let’s talk about the ugly and the dark and the evil. Let’s talk about this because the alleged victim talked about it, even though he doesn’t “even want to be involved now, to be honest.”
He testified Jerry Sandusky had him perform oral sex at least 40 times. The former football giant tried inserting his fingers into the boy’s anus. Those were the last answers of the prosecution’s opening line of questioning.
And when Amendola pried into the man, asking him why he never said a word to anybody about the severity of the alleged abuse until he sat before the 33rd Statewide Investigating Grand Jury, he held nothing back.
“I didn’t want to lose these things, and he was nice to me other than those instances,” the man said. “ . . . I feel cool because I’m hanging out with [football] players all the time. I don’t want to lose someone actually paying attention to me.
“I’m trying to save face because I’m getting picked on. Second off, I didn’t really want to admit it’s happening. I’ve spent so many years burying this in the back of my head forever. I would not be here doing this right now if I thought I was the only person.
“Then I found out this happened over and over again. I feel if I said something back then they wouldn’t have this happen to them. I feel responsible for other victims.”
After hearing that, yeah, Mount Everest sounds about right.
The man’s testimony was littered with spice. He corrected Amendola on dates and facts of his testimony. He raised his voice when clarifying details. He recalled one time he hit Sandusky with a bottle because he kept putting his hand on his leg while riding in the car. A friend was in the back seat.
“At one point you hit him with a bottle because he put his hand on your knee?” Amendola asked.
“No, because he kept putting his hand on my knee,” the man replied.
There were the contracts, made-up agreements with the Second Mile’s stamp of approval that offered money to the alleged victim for hanging out with Sandusky and performing well in activities. A representative from the charity confirmed such programs wouldn’t exist unless they went through an approval process.
In essence, the prosecution alleges, you have made-up agreements so Sandusky had more access to his victims. And the man — nay, a boy at the time — withstood bullying throughout school and preemptively signed the contract because he knew if he started distancing himself from Sandusky, and all the golf clubs and the snowboards and the hockey equipment and the football tickets and gear and the access to the players and coaches locker rooms on Penn State’s campus, people would believe the rumors going around to be true.
His testimony wrapped around 4:45 p.m., and the prosecution called a no-name Second Mile rep named Marc McCann because there was not enough time to put the next witness they wanted on the stand, another alleged victim.
Monday was Day 1 of what could be a three-week trial.
But there’s this: For as captivating as it was hearing from an alleged victim, the headline of the day remained an NBC report outlining Graham Spanier’s emails to Tim Curley and Gary Schultz discussing an alleged incident between Sandusky and a young boy in 2001 and deciding not to alert authorities out of concern for the retired defensive coordinator.
Ears perked up when the alleged victim on the stand said Tom Bradley saw him and Sandusky in the shower and decided to remain there until they left because, the man thought, Bradley seemed suspicious.
Prosecutors said in their opening statement Penn State is not on trial. But this is a jury with deep ties to Penn State, and Amendola ultimately must convince just one of those 12 that Sandusky is innocent.
Playing the blue and white card could be the defense's best bet.
Everest certainly is not.