Sandusky jury ends deliberations for the night

Posted: June 22, 2012

BELLEFONTE, Pa. - After hearing competing portraits of Jerry Sandusky as mentor and monster, a Centre County jury spent more than seven hours deliberating his fate before breaking for the night Thursday.

Jurors suspended their work around 8:30 p.m. after requesting the testimony of former Pennsylvania State University assistant coach Mike McQueary and that of McQueary family friend John Dranov, who had been called as a defense witness.

Judge John Cleland, noting the testimony was lengthy, suggested the jury consider it in the morning. Jurors nodded in agreement.

The judge then said the proceedings were over for the night.

The testimony sought provided contrasting views of what McQueary told others after he allegedly saw Sandusky sexually assaulting a boy in a Penn State locker room shower in 2001. McQueary testified he made clear to Dranov he witnessed a sexual act; Dranov said McQueary, in speaking to him, claimed he did not clearly see Sandusky and the boy in a sexual act, but heard sounds that implied one.

The jury is scheduled to meet again Friday morning.

Before starting deliberations, the jury sat through a morning of compelling, emotional and competing closing statements from defense and prosecuting attorneys.

Defense attorney Joseph Amendola's voice caught as he described Sandusky's life of good works and altruism - now destroyed, he said, by the false allegations of money-seeking families, greedy private attorneys, and police intent on getting a conviction.

When it was his turn to speak, prosecutor Joseph McGettigan III walked to the defense table and stepped behind Sandusky, standing within inches of him.

"He knows he did it," the prosecutor told the jury.

Sandusky didn't turn to look at McGettigan, instead fixing the jury with an uneasy smile.

The closing arguments capped seven days of often grueling and graphic testimony. Sandusky, once idolized as a Penn State football coach and revered for his work with his Second Mile charity, has seen his reputation shattered. He's accused of molesting 10 boys during a 15-year period.

Throughout the trial, the defense struggled to make headway against accusers who may have been uncertain of dates and times, but were unwavering in what they said Sandusky had done to them, from touching to forced oral sex to anal rape. In closing, though, Amendola marshaled his facts to suggest plenty of room for reasonable doubt.

He offered jurors a simple explanation for the horrific allegations: a conspiracy among the victims to make up stories and, through court judgments, obtain riches.

Prosecutors brought forth "not one piece of physical evidence," and in two instances could not even produce the alleged victims, he said. Instead, prosecutors relied on witnesses who said they saw Sandusky engaged in sexual acts with boys.

When Sandusky was arrested, Amendola said, life as he knew it essentially came to an end - as it did for his wife and family.

"And Mr. Sandusky says, 'How do I fight this? Because I'm innocent.' "

Consider, Amendola said, Sandusky's history: years of working with children, work that brought him into contact with thousands of young people, parents, counselors. And not one complaint until November 2008, when authorities launched an initial investigation.

The timing of the earliest allegations would have been when Sandusky was in his mid-50s. So at that age, Amendola asked rhetorically, he suddenly becomes a pedophile?

He asked jurors to consider the testimony of Sandusky's wife, Dottie. She was always around, in and out of the house, but never heard anything untoward, he said.

"It doesn't add up," he said. "It doesn't make sense."

Amendola insisted that police pressured Sandusky's accusers to add new, terrible details to their stories, and that their lesser accusations grew into ruinous criminal charges.

"This man's life's at stake," Amendola said, turning toward Sandusky. "I submit to you they were going to get him come hell or high water, even if they had to coach witnesses."

Amendola tried to discredit crucial prosecution testimony from McQueary.

The defense counsel said McQueary didn't know exactly what he had seen. Whatever it was, "he doesn't stop it. We've got the Penn State police department literally 30 seconds away. 911? They get the young boy, they get Jerry Sandusky, case over. He doesn't do that."

McQueary assumed he saw something that he didn't actually see, Amendola argued.

Sandusky watched his lawyer with rapt attention, occasionally biting his lip. The jurors were equally focused, except for one young man in a dark blue shirt and tie, who looked at the floor or into the distance, playing with a pen as Amendola spoke.

"I'll be the first one to tell you, if he did this, he should rot in jail the rest of his life," Amendola said. "But what if he didn't do these things? His life is destroyed. Regardless of the outcome, it's awful."

What McGettigan thought of Amendola's arguments could be summed up in a word: hogwash.

The prosecutor, speaking softly, told the jury that Sandusky's attorneys had resorted to a strategy employed in the face of overwhelming evidence: Admit what they must, deny what they can, call everyone a liar, and claim a conspiracy.

McGettigan asked: Was everyone in on the conspiracy? The investigators who conducted an initial inquiry in 1998? Mike McQueary, who saw Sandusky in the locker-room showers in 2001? The grand jurors who indicted Sandusky last year? Himself, standing in the courtroom?

"If you conclude there was a conspiracy," he said, "bring in the handcuffs and take me away."

He flashed the boyhood photos of eight alleged victims onto a viewing screen, then followed with a photo of an unsmiling Sandusky.

"That's the person who did it," the prosecutor said.

All the jurors paid close attention as McGettigan spoke.

He told them it's easy for defense counsel to paint the victims' graphic testimony - several initially denied or minimized their alleged abuse to investigators - as part of a conspiracy. In fact, their response was a human one, he said, as they tried to block out the trauma they had endured.

The defense never refuted a single instance of alleged abuse, he said.

The prosecutor dismissed the laudatory accounts of character witnesses who described Sandusky as a caring family man who did all he could for children, giving them money, taking them to football games, giving them his time.

"A pedophile," McGettigan said. "Grooming the children. The full spectrum of predatory pedophile behavior. . . . A person with a psychosexual disorder, fixated on adolescent boys."

His work with children at his Second Mile charity, far from being admirable, gave him access to a pool of children to molest.

The prosecutor returned to McQueary, how shaken he must have been after glimpsing Sandusky pressed against the backside of a boy.

"Think about what happened to him that night. . . . He couldn't imagine this," the prosecutor said. What did he do about it? Joe Paterno was the go-to guy, and he went to the go-to guy."

Near the very end of his remarks, McGettigan asked the jury to think about the boys whose lives were damaged, whose youth was taken. And he asked them to think about the testimony of Dottie Sandusky, who in court recognized photos of most of the accusers by face and name, and in particular the last question he put to her:

"Why would they lie?" the prosecutor had asked.

"I don't know," she answered.


Contact staff writer Jeff Gammage at 215-854-2415, jgammage@phillynews.com, or on Twitter @JeffGammage.

Inquirer staff writer Susan Snyder contributed to this article.

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