The blunder came one day after prosecutors conceded they had a key date wrong in an instance of alleged abuse that has come, for many, to define the case against the former Pennsylvania State University assistant football coach.
They said in court filings Monday that they now believe then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary saw Sandusky sexually assaulting a boy in the football locker room showers in February 2001 — a full year earlier than the date they had previously provided.
The time change could carry significant ramifications for forthcoming trials against Sandusky and two Penn State administrators accused of failing to report the abuse.
Attorneys for Tim Curley, the university’s former athletic director, and Gary Schultz, a former vice president, argue that if the abuse happened in 2001 it no longer falls within the statute of limitations for their failure-to-report charge.
“Whether or not Mr. McQueary’s insistence was the result of faulty memory or questionable credibility, there is no dispute that the statute of limitations has expired on [the failure-to-report charge], and it will be dismissed,” said attorneys Caroline Roberto and Thomas J. Farrell.
Prosecutors have not responded to those arguments in court. A judicial gag order bars attorneys from both sides of Sandusky’s trial from commenting on the case.
The story of Victim 2 — the boy whose alleged abuse McQueary says he witnessed — has emerged as a focal point in the investigation.
It led to the charges against Curley and Schultz and cost former university president Graham B. Spanier and longtime head football coach Joe Paterno their jobs.
All four men were allegedly told some version of what McQueary said he saw. None did enough to follow up on the allegations, prosecutors and university administrators have said. The four have maintained that McQueary never fully explained the severity of the situation.
Shifting the date of the purported abuse could open a window for Sandusky’s defense to attack McQueary’s credibility. He has already come under scrutiny from those who ask why he did not immediately step in if he thought he was witnessing a child’s rape.
The changing timeline could also add credence to a story floated by Sandusky’s attorney, Joseph Amendola, that McQueary misunderstood what he saw.
In an interview late last year, Amendola claimed that he was approached by a young man who said he might be the person identified in filings as Victim 2.
He allegedly told Amendola that he was taking an innocent shower with Sandusky, but that the coach later called to tell him that he might be contacted by university administrators because someone had seen them and felt uncomfortable, the lawyer said.
At the time, Amendola expressed frustration that the February 2001 date the young man put on the incident did not line up with prosecutors’ timeline. Now, it does.
Prosecutors have conceded they still do not know Victim 2’s identity.
Sandusky has denied charges he molested 10 boys over 15 years and remains confined to his State College home pending the start of his June 5 trial. Amendola and prosecutors are expected at a pretrial hearing today in Bellefonte, but the former coach is not expected to attend.
Also Tuesday, McQueary, whom Penn State placed on administrative leave last year, filed a preliminary documents in Centre County Court announcing he intends to sue the university for violating rules protecting whistle-blowers, the Centre Daily Times reported.
McQueary’s attorney, Elliot Strokoff, did not return calls for comment.
Contact Jeremy Roebuck at 267-564-5218 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow on Twitter @jeremyrroebuck.