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Sandusky's son joins list of accusers as jurors begin deliberations

Jurors in Jerry Sandusky's child sex abuse trial end Day One of deliberations with a request to rehear some testimony. The former Penn State football coach's son alleges abuse too.

June 22, 2012|By Michael Muskal, Los Angeles Times
  • Jerry Sandusky leaves court in Bellefonte, Pa. One of his sons had been prepared to testify that he too was abused by the former coach.
Jerry Sandusky leaves court in Bellefonte, Pa. One of his sons had been prepared… (Nabil K. Mark, Centre Daily…)

Jurors weighing the fate of former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky listened to fiery closing arguments and began deliberations Thursday, while outside their hearing one of Sandusky's sons said he too had been abused by his father.

Almost 81/2 hours after deliberations began, jurors asked to rehear testimony about an alleged shower encounter between Sandusky and a boy of 10 or 12. Jurors wanted to revisit the testimony of Mike McQueary, who said he saw a sex act, and of McQueary's friend Dr. Jonathan Dranov, who described a less graphic version that he said McQueary told him in 2001.

Judge John M. Cleland suggested jurors wait until morning, and after some hesitation they took his advice. The panel of seven women and five men retired for the night at 9:37 p.m.

Earlier in the day — but after the jury was sequestered — came the surprise claim of abuse on behalf of Matt Sandusky, 33, one of Jerry Sandusky's six adopted children. Prosecutors and defense attorneys, who are under a gag order, had no comment. The younger Sandusky is not among the youths involved in the case, but his lawyers said in a statement that he had been prepared to testify against his father.

Sandusky, 68, faces 48 criminal charges alleging that over a 15-year period he abused 10 boys connected to a charity he founded. The former coach originally was charged with 52 counts, but the judge dropped four charges.

The scandal led to the dismissal of legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno and university President Graham Spanier late last year after trustees questioned how they had investigated reports of abuse. Paterno died of cancer in January.

During the trial in Bellefonte, Pa., the prosecution portrayed Sandusky as a predatory pedophile who groomed boys from the Second Mile charity with gifts and trips to football games — no small gesture in an area enamored with Penn State's football program. More than half of the jurors have ties to the university, either as former students or employees.

Prosecutors allege that after the gifts, Sandusky escalated the relationships, fondling the boys or forcing them to commit sex acts. Eight accusers testified that some attacks took place in the basement of Sandusky's home in State College, Pa., and others in the locker room showers at Penn State's football training facility. The identities of two of the alleged victims have never been ascertained — including the boy allegedly involved in the incident McQueary described.

In his closing remarks, Senior Deputy Atty. Gen. Joe McGettigan III asked jurors to concentrate on the boys and give them justice.

Moving behind Sandusky, McGettigan said: "He molested and abused and hurt these children horribly. He knows he did it, and you know he did it. Find him guilty of everything."

The defense drew a different portrait, contending that Sandusky was a victim of accusers with a financial motive to lie because they were hoping for big paydays in civil lawsuits. In addition, the defense said the investigation was flawed because investigators were convinced the former coach was guilty and, in effect, led the accusers to shade their stories.

"They went after him, and I submit to you they were going to get him hell or high water, even if they had to coach witnesses," defense attorney Joseph Amendola said.

There was no physical evidence of abuse, Amendola said, just the accusers' words. "All he ever wanted to do was to help kids, from the time he was a kid. He helped thousands of kids," Amendola said of Sandusky.

"Folks, you have to use your common sense," Amendola continued. "Jerry Sandusky took these kids everywhere. Is that what a pedophile does? … Does he parade these kids around?"

Defense character witnesses were led by Sandusky's wife, Dottie, who directly rebutted testimony from two accusers. She also testified that she and Jerry were unable to conceive so they adopted six children, including Matt, who came to live with them as a foster child in 1995 and was adopted as an adult. He was also a client of the Second Mile charity.

Jerry Sandusky did not take the stand, but jurors heard his televised interview with sports journalist Bob Costas. In it, Sandusky acknowledged showering with boys but denied improper conduct.

Lawyers for the younger Sandusky triggered a media maelstrom by releasing the statement that he had been prepared to testify for the prosecution. It was unclear why he wasn't called, and the gag order made it impossible to find out.

"During the trial, Matt Sandusky contacted us and requested our advice and assistance in arranging a meeting with prosecutors to disclose for the first time in this case that he is a victim of Jerry Sandusky's abuse," the statement said. "At Matt's request, we immediately arranged a meeting between him and the prosecutors and investigators."

No details were released.

michael.muskal@latimes.com

The Allentown Morning Call contributed to this report.

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