Sandusky trial put off until June

The extra time is needed for recent developments.

Posted: March 30, 2012

HARRISBURG - The judge overseeing former Pennsylvania State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky's child-sexual-abuse case on Thursday delayed the start of the trial by three weeks to early June, and prosecutors filed a lengthy court document that said the case should not be dismissed.

Judge John Cleland said the extra time was needed "to accommodate various logistical contingencies that have arisen," and the Attorney General's Office supported the postponement.

The prosecution's 21-page answer to a catch-all pretrial motion Sandusky's lawyer submitted a week ago said the commonwealth had "broad latitude" to establish the dates of allegations in child-sexual-abuse cases. Sandusky has asked for more specifics about when the alleged crimes occurred.

"Defendant cannot exploit the appalling breadth of his own criminal conduct by claiming it encompasses so long a period as to hamper his defense," Frank Fina, chief deputy attorney general, wrote.

The 68-year-old retired defensive coordinator faces 52 counts involving 10 alleged victims over 15 years. He remains confined to his home awaiting trial. Prosecutors have accused him of engaging in a range of illegal behavior with the boys, including sexual assaults, allegations that he denies.

Fina disputed Sandusky's argument that witness Mike McQueary would not be able to prove the charges involving a young boy whom McQueary allegedly saw Sandusky abusing sexually in a shower at Penn State in 2002.

"The defense appears to argue that an eyewitness who sees an adult man having sex with a child cannot provide sufficient evidence of the conduct of crimes," Fina wrote. "It is noteworthy that the defense provides no legal support for such a specious assertion."

Cleland said a hearing remained scheduled for April 5 in Bellefonte to argue over pretrial issues.

Fina wrote that the prosecution agreed with Sandusky's request to have prospective jurors questioned individually, and to sequester them at trial.

In Sandusky's omnibus pretrial motion last week, defense lawyer Joe Amendola argued that some allegations were not sufficiently specific, others lacked evidence, and the statute of limitations may have run out in some cases.

Messages seeking comment on the prosecution's filing were left for Amendola on Thursday evening.

Fina noted that Sandusky waived a preliminary hearing that would have allowed him to test some of the evidence against him.

"He cannot now be heard to complain the information is insufficient, having conceded the ability of the commonwealth to prove each count if submitted to a fact-finder," Fina wrote.

Fina told Cleland prosecutors expected to disclose additional information to the defense as the investigation continues. He asked the judge to allow Amendola to amend the pretrial motion two weeks after that additional information is received.

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