Judge John Cleland pictured outside the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte,… (Gene J. Puskar/Associated…)
The trial of Jerry Sandusky on charges of sexually abusing boys will begin on Monday after the judge refused to dismiss charges against the former Penn State assistant football coach.
In an order posted on the court’s website on Friday, Judge John Cleland ruled against the defense’s motion to have the charges dismissed. Cleland did not explain his reasoning.
Sandusky, 68, will face 52 counts of abusing 10 boys over 15 years. Some of the incidents are alleged to have taken place at Penn State, about 10 miles from the courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa., where opening statements are scheduled for Monday.
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The ruling was the latest blow to the defense, which has unsuccessfully sought to delay the start of the proceedings. The defense has maintained that it needs more time to evaluate the information in order to present an effective defense. Cleland and appeals court judges have rejected that argument.
But the defense did win an important decision in keeping the trial in Sandusky’s home area. About half of the jurors selected this week have said they have some degree of connection to the university.
A panel of seven women and five men was seated this week during two days of selection. Cleland has said the trial will take several weeks.
Sandusky is accused of abusing boys from The Second Mile, a charity he founded. The former defensive football coach is accused of bringing some of the boys to Penn State on field trips that led to improper conduct.
In 2001, Mike McQueary, then a graduate assistant and later an assistant football coach, saw Sandusky showering with a naked 10-year-old boy, McQueary told investigators later. In media interviews, Sandusky admitted showering with the boy but insisted nothing untoward took place.
McQueary later also told investigators that he went to head football coach Joe Paterno with the report of abuse. Paterno then went to other university officials, including university President Graham Spanier.
The board of trustees dismissed Paterno and Spanier from their posts after Sandusky was arrested in November. The trustees said that both officials had failed to act forcefully enough in dealing with the abuse reports. Paterno died earlier this year of lung cancer.
Two other Penn State administrators have been charged with perjury and failing to report the abuse. Athletic director Tim Curley and former vice president Gary Schultz are awaiting trial on those charges.
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