Sandusky seeks to dismiss sex charges citing vague timelines

Posted: March 12, 2012

BELLEFONTE, Pa. - Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky will seek to have his charges dismissed if prosecutors cannot provide more specific time frames during which he allegedly abused 10 youths, his attorney said Monday.

Lawyer Joseph Amendola said that by only providing vague time periods - in some cases as long as six years - during which the molestations purportedly occurred, the state had effectively hamstrung Sandusky's ability to defend himself in court through challenging specifics of the purported victims stories.

"I think it's fundamentally unfair to Mr. Sandusky's due process rights and his chance to have a fair trial," the attorney said during a hearing Monday in Centre County.

But prosecutors maintained the purported victims' inability to describe specific dates and times are not surprising considering their age at the time of the alleged attacks and the passage of time.

"The recollections of their youth are tainted by molestation by a person four times their age," said Deputy Attorney General Joseph E. McGettigan.

Sandusky has denied charges he molested at least 10 boys during a 15-year period. According to the grand jury presentment filed against him in November, the former coach met all of his purported victims through The Second Mile, a charity he founded for underprivileged youth in 1977. But much of the abuse purportedly occurred on at Penn State athletic events or on the university's campus.

Monday's hearing extended a now months-long debate over what information Sandusky's defense team should have in the run-up to his trial this spring.

In January, Amendola requested a specific listing of the date, time and location of every alleged instance of abuse so his client could check that information against his own records for possible alibis.

But when the state earlier this month provided some details the alleged victims' could remember, Amendola argued it wasn't enough.

While prosecutors identified abuse alleged to have occurred around trips to specific football games, for most of the boys, state attorneys were only provided an estimate or range of dates for when the molestation occurred and a rough estimate of their age at the time. Two of the purported victims remain unidentified, they said.

Amendola asked Common Pleas Judge John Cleland Monday to order a more complete accounting.

"We're dealing with kids that were at least 7, 8, or 9 - many of them teenagers - when these allegations occurred," he said. "Many of those children went to Penn State football games or other events that would stick out in a teenagers' mind."

McGettigan shot back: "It's not the football games that would stick out. It's the victimization they suffered that they have tried to suppress."

But in his questioning in court Monday, Cleland seemed concerned that prosecutors could not at least comply in broad terms. He cited several cases in which victims as young as 3-years-old were able to pin their abuse to a time period of a few months.

"I have not found any other cases where just saying the allegations occurred within the statute of limitations was sufficient," he said.

Cleland did not immediately issue a ruling after Monday's short hearing.


Contact Jeremy Roebuck at 267-564-5218, jroebuck@phillynews.com, or @jeremyrroebuck on Twitter. Follow the Inquirer at www.Twitter.com/PhillyInquirer and www.Facebook.com/PhillyInquirer

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