Sandusky lawyer: Youths may dispute abuse allegations

Posted: November 15, 2011

The lawyer representing former Pennsylvania State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky said Tuesday that at least half of the eight boys his client is accused of molesting may dispute those allegations.

That number, according to lawyer Joseph Amendola, could include a young man who believes he is the unidentified "victim" at the center of an alleged 2002 incident in which a graduate assistant purportedly saw Sandusky raping a 10-year-old boy.

"This kid is convinced he's the kid [in question], and he's telling me there was no sex," Amendola told The Inquirer. He declined to identify that alleged victim, now 20, saying he was still working to verify the man's story.

Amendola's statements came amid a media blitz by the defense lawyer and his client that began Monday night when Sandusky denied in an interview with NBC that he had sexually assaulted any of the alleged victims. It continued Tuesday with appearances by Amendola on network and cable news, supporting his client's assertions.

What emerged was a first glimpse at what the former defensive coordinator's courtroom tactics might look like as he sets out to defend himself against child sex-abuse charges in a case that led to the dismissal last week of Penn State president Graham Spanier and football coach Joe Paterno.

And Sandusky was not the only one seeking Tuesday to repair his image.

In an e-mail obtained by the Associated Press, Penn State receivers coach Mike McQueary - who as a graduate assistant was at the center of the 2002 allegations - told a friend he had contacted police after witnessing the alleged rape. He has come under fire since Sandusky's arrest for not doing more to stop the abuse at the time. "I did stop it, not physically . . . but made sure it was stopped when I left that locker room," he wrote. "I did have discussions with police and with the official at the university in charge of the police."

Wendell Courtney, the former general counsel for Penn State, who prosecutors allege also worked for Sandusky's charity, the Second Mile, during a 1998 investigation of abuse allegations against the coach, also broke days of silence Tuesday. In an interview with The Inquirer, he maintained that he began work with the nonprofit only in 2009 and had not known of any serious allegations against the former coach until the start of this latest grand jury investigation.

"Had I as a lawyer - as a human being - had any inkling at any point in time that Jerry Sandusky was doing anything even remotely improper, nothing in this world would have stopped me from making sure those allegations were reported to the police," he said.

A spokesman for the Attorney General's Office declined to comment Tuesday on any of the statements by Amendola, Sandusky, McQueary, or Courtney, citing the ongoing investigation.

Sandusky's legal strategy, as gleaned from this week's interviews, appears to be shaping up as equal parts questioning some of the alleged victims' motivations - "There may be a lot of money involved," Amendola told Ann Curry of The Today Show - and minimizing and challenging individual allegations contained in the grand jury report.

"When you take it apart complaint by complaint, we have answers for each one of those," Amendola told CNN. "In two or three - or even perhaps four of those - the allegation is that Jerry put his hand on a boy's knee . . . got a shower with them, or gave them a bear hug - which, I might add, doesn't involve criminal activity."

Two of the alleged victims maintain friendships with Sandusky and his wife and had dinner with them as recently as this summer, Amendola said.

The lawyer said another - a boy who purportedly told grand jurors that Sandusky had made sexual advances on him during trips to San Antonio, Texas, in the late 1990s - brought his girlfriend and his child to the coach's house a few years ago and asked him to be a part of their lives.

"I think the biggest problem has been everyone has rushed to judgment - to convict him," Amendola told The Inquirer. "Everyone has already assumed he's guilty."

The warm relationships the attorney described stand in contrast to the stories each of Sandusky's alleged victims reportedly told the grand jury.

Of the six who testified, all but one said they were subjected to graphic forms of sexual abuse ranging from having their genitals kissed or groped to being forced to perform oral sex.

The now 27-year-old man who told grand jurors of the San Antonio trips, identified in the presentment as "Victim 4," said he suffered numerous forms of assault in hotel rooms, Penn State football facilities, and a Centre County golf resort, the report says.

Another man, Victim 7, testified he had not had contact with Sandusky for years, but received phone calls from the former coach and his wife days before his scheduled testimony before the grand jury. They wanted to discuss a "very important" matter, the report says. He said he did not return their calls.

The largest questions loomed around the two victims prosecutors have yet to identify. Both of their stories come from eyewitnesses who testified they caught Sandusky in the act. One of them - identified in the presentment as "Victim 2" - is the man Amendola said Tuesday is denying he was ever abused.

According to the grand jury report, McQueary, the then graduate assistant, walked in on Sandusky raping the boy in the showers of the Penn State football locker room.

Sandusky, however, said in his Monday interview with NBC that McQueary misinterpreted what he saw.

"We were showering and horsing around," he said. "[The boy] actually turned all the showers on and was actually sliding across the floor. We were, as I recall, possibly snapping a towel - horseplay."

Amendola said that Sandusky alerted the boy a day or two later that Penn State officials might ask him about the incident. The former coach encouraged the child to tell the truth, his attorney maintained.

Amendola said that the university has known the boy's identity from the beginning, though it never bothered to contact him. (Prosecutors said last week that the boy's identity remained unknown.)

"For whatever reason, they never called the boy. They accepted what Jerry said," Amendola said. "That's why they told Jerry, 'Don't go in the showers with kids anymore,' as opposed to, 'We're going to contact the police.' "

But as this war of words developed, the scandal's fallout continued to reverberate across the state.

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) called Tuesday for congressional hearings to examine strengthening federal sexual-abuse reporting laws, while phone calls continued to pour in to the state police hotline set up for Sandusky-related allegations.

The New York Times reported Tuesday that at least 10 more potential victims had come forward since Sandusky's arrest. State police spokesman Maria Finn denied that number, saying investigators had not yet finished vetting all claims they had received.

Also Tuesday, fallout from the scandal continued to threaten the Second Mile, the charity Sandusky founded in 1977 and through which he is alleged to have met all his purported victims. At least seven members of the charity's south central board resigned, along with a handful of state board leaders, said former board member Thomas J. Schimmer.

The charity did not return calls seeking confirmation of those numbers.

Finally, the New York Times reported that Paterno had transferred his house to his wife, Sue, for $1 in July, a transaction suggestive of someone trying to shield assets from civil suits, according to several lawyers.

Wick Sollers, a lawyer for Paterno, told the Times in an e-mail that the transfer was part of a "multiyear estate planning program" by the Paternos and had nothing to do with the scandal.


Contact staff writer Jeremy Roebuck at 267-564-5218, jroebuck@phillynews.com, or @inqmontco on Twitter. Read his blog, "MontCo Memo," at www.philly.com/montcomemo

Staff writer Amy Worden contributed to this article.

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