Lawyer: No plea talks on eve of Sandusky hearing

December 12, 2011 3:05:52 PM PST
On the eve of a key court hearing, Jerry Sandusky's lawyer said that no plea negotiations have been held and that the former Penn State assistant football coach is looking forward to facing his accusers in the child sex-abuse case.

As many as 10 young men could testify in public for the first time at the hearing, which is expected to last at least a full day Tuesday and perhaps spill into a second day.

At the preliminary hearing, a judge will decide if prosecutors have enough evidence to send the case to trial. It's almost a given that prosecutors will succeed, since the bar is low and they have detailed the accusations in a 28-page grand jury report.

Defense lawyers sometimes waive preliminary hearings in those circumstances to avoid more negative publicity, but the ex-coach's lawyer said the defense is eager to hear from the witnesses and gauge the strength of the case.

"We plan to proceed with Jerry's hearing, and Jerry is looking forward to the opportunity to face his accusers," lawyer Joe Amendola told The Associated Press on Monday.

Amendola said there had been no plea negotiations, and he wouldn't say if he would call Sandusky to testify.

Sandusky, 63, is charged with more than 50 counts of child sex-abuse involving 10 boys he met through the children's charity he founded. Penn State's longtime defensive coordinator, he was the heir apparent to longtime coach Joe Paterno until Sandusky's unexpected retirement at age 55 in 1999.

Criminal lawyers say there are several things to look for at the preliminary hearing.

The first is the demeanor of the accusers, who must give sensitive testimony in front of 200 people in the courtroom, half of them reporters.

The defense will no doubt try to cast doubt on their stories and question whether they have financial motives for coming forward. Most have hired lawyers and are expected to sue Sandusky - who is not thought to have much in the way of assets - and Penn State, which does.

Another question is whether prosecutors will call other witnesses, such as assistant coach Michael McQueary, who told the grand jury he saw Sandusky sodomize a boy in a locker room shower in 2002.

"We are prepared to question Michael McQueary if the commonwealth calls him as a witness," Amendola told the AP on Monday.

McQueary's testimony, however, could be troublesome for the state and may not be needed to show probable cause.

The day after the shower encounter, McQueary reported what he saw to Paterno, who then spoke to other Penn State administrators, according to the grand jury report. State law enforcement officials have criticized Paterno and the administrators for not doing more when presented with those allegations nine years ago.

Paterno said McQueary only reported seeing Sandusky "fondling or doing something of a sexual nature to a young boy," according to the grand jury's summary of Paterno's testimony. Paterno said in a Nov. 6 statement that McQueary "at no time related to me the very specific actions contained in the grand jury report."

After Sandusky was charged last month, McQueary himself faced criticism that he left the locker room rather than help the boy. He later sent out an ambiguously worded email that read, "I did stop it, not physically, but made sure it was stopped when I left that locker room."

Former Philadelphia sex-crimes prosecutor Richard DeSipio said he would be surprised if prosecutors called McQueary to the stand this week.

"I don't think they're going to show all their cards," he said.

Asked if he would put Sandusky on the stand, Amendola replied only: "Maybe."


Load Comments