Judge: Sandusky can see grandkids, have local jury

February 13, 2012 8:44:56 AM PST
The judge in Jerry Sandusky's child sex abuse trial ruled Monday that the former Penn State assistant coach's jury will be composed of residents of State College and the surrounding area and that he has permission to visit with most of his grandchildren.

Judge John Cleland ordered the state attorney general's office to disclose the ages of the children at the time prosecutors say the crimes occurred. The judge also ordered prosecutors to turn over the times, dates and locations of such encounters.

The judge said jury selection will be a challenge, given the pretrial publicity and the special role Penn State plays in the Centre County community.

"If, after a reasonable attempt it is apparent that a jury cannot be selected within a reasonable time, then I will reconsider this ruling," Cleland wrote.

Cleland encouraged state prosecutors to work with the judge who supervised a grand jury that investigated Sandusky to figure out how to release grand jury transcripts to Sandusky's lawyers "on a schedule which balances the appropriate interests of maintaining the secrecy of the grand jury while still assuring the trial can proceed without unnecessary disruption."

Sandusky faces 52 criminal counts for what prosecutors claim was sexual abuse of 10 boys over a 15-year period. He has denied the allegations.

Prosecutors had asked to have Sandusky, who is on home confinement as he awaits trial, ordered to remain indoors after they fielded concerns by neighbors about the safety of children, particularly at an elementary school behind Sandusky's house. Cleland denied that motion.

"No evidence was presented that at any time the defendant made any effort to contact any of the children by signaling or calling to them, or that he made any gestures directed toward them, or that he acted in any inappropriate way whatsoever," Cleland wrote.

The 68-year-old Sandusky was granted the right to see adult visitors, as well as his grandchildren - under their parents' supervision - except for three grandchildren who are the subject of custody litigation. Cleland deferred visits with those children to the judge overseeing the custody case.

Sandusky was allowed to make up a list of up to 12 adults, in addition to members of his immediate family, he would like to be able to see. The county officials overseeing his home confinement will then approve or deny his requests. He will be limited to a total of two hours of visits three times a week.

Cleland, who has set a tentative trial date for mid-May, addressed disputes between the sides over material that should be turned over to the defense by directing prosecutors to put their objections in writing by Feb. 20, and Sandusky's lawyers will be allowed to reply by Feb. 27.

Sandusky lost a request to force prosecutors to disclose the names, addresses and dates of birth of witnesses.

Calls seeking comment weren't immediately returned by Sandusky attorney Joe Amendola or by a spokesman for the attorney general's office.