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Jury is selected in Sandusky sexual abuse trial

More than half of the jury has ties to Penn State University, where the accused worked for years as a football coach.

June 06, 2012|By Peter Hall and Nicole Radzievich", Morning Call
  • Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, right, arrives at court with attorney Joe Amendola.
Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, right, arrives… (Patrick Smith, Getty Images )

BELLEFONTE, Pa. — A dozen jurors and four alternates were selected Wednesday to hear evidence in the case against Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State University coach accused of sexually abusing 10 boys.

More than half of the jury shares with Sandusky ties to Penn State, the iconic university shaken to its foundations by the molestation charges against the retired football coach.

Sandusky, who retired in 1999 after a decades-long career as the football team's defensive coordinator, faces 52 counts of child sexual abuse.

Opening statements in the trial are scheduled for Monday, and testimony is expected to last for two to three weeks.

The jurors include a fifty-something grandmother who works as a Penn State engineering department administrative assistant, a thirty-something dance teacher in the university's continuing education program and a tenured professor who served on a faculty committee with former university President Graham Spanier, who was fired in the aftermath of the abuse scandal.

Other jurors include a Penn State senior, a retired soil sciences professor with 37 years at the university, a man with bachelor's and master's degrees from the school and a woman who's been a football season-ticket holder since the 1970s.

Among the alternates, two informed prosecutors and Sandusky's attorneys of their links to the university, which has its main campus in rural Centre County, about 200 miles northwest of Philadelphia.

Although Judge John M. Cleland, Sandusky's attorneys and lead prosecutor Joseph E. McGettigan III grilled the prospective jurors on their feelings about Penn State, the school ties did not appear to be their main concerns.

Sandusky appeared to be engaged in the process, leaning forward in his chair and reacting to jurors' answers.

At one point when the judge and lawyers left the room, Sandusky joked with reporters.

"What did you guys do to deserve me?" he asked. "How did you guys get stuck with this?"

At the start of questioning Wednesday, Sandusky attorney Joe Amendola asked for a delay in the trial to restart the jury selection with a fresh group of prospects. He argued that ABC News reports on Tuesday about "intimate love letters" that Sandusky allegedly sent to an accuser would taint the jury pool.

The judge said starting over would be unnecessary, but did quiz the jurors on the matter. None reported hearing about the letters.

According to ABC News, intimate love letters allegedly in Sandusky's handwriting will be read into testimony. The letters are reported to be between Sandusky and one of his accusers, who met Sandusky through Second Mile, the charity he helped establish for at-risk children. The victim is expected to show gifts, including golf clubs, Sandusky gave him, ABC News reported.

peter.hall@mcall.com

nicole.radzievich@mcall.com

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