Rich Hofmann: Now we know why Matt Sandusky didn't testify

Posted: June 22, 2012

THE TESTIMONY was done, Jerry Sandusky had chosen not to take the stand in his defense, and both sides had rested. It was Wednesday afternoon. The trial was almost over, but it was impossible not to run the thing through your head, again and again: the wrenching testimony of the alleged victims, the sometimes ham-handed defense, all of it. And then it dawned on you.

There were a couple of obvious people who were not heard from. It just didn't make sense. Amid the parade of character witnesses, there were people — witnesses to showers, like former Penn State coach Tom Bradley — who should have been able to offer factual testimony to counter several claims made by the people accusing Sandusky of 48 counts of sexually abusing 10 young boys.

And there was one in particular.

Where was Matt?

Now, we know. Matt Sandusky, the 33-year-old adopted son, one of six adopted children, now also claims to have been abused by Jerry Sandusky. With that, the horror of this case officially knows no bounds.

"During the trial, Matt Sandusky contacted us and requested our advice and assistance in arranging a meeting with prosecutors to disclose for the first time in this case that he is a victim of Jerry Sandusky's abuse," said the statement released by two State College attorneys, Andrew Shubin and Justine Andronici. "At Matt's request, we immediately arranged a meeting between him and the prosecutors and investigators."

The statement did not say exactly when Matt came forward. No one knows how simple or complicated his story might be, or what kind of a witness he might make, or how the prosecution was forced to calculate in deciding to keep this story from the jury, which deliberated into the night Thursday.

Still, NBC has telecast quick video clips of a man it says is Matt Sandusky being hustled into and then out of the back door of the courthouse on Wednesday afternoon. He was surrounded by investigators from the prosecution. NBC has said that Matt would have testified in rebuttal if Jerry Sandusky had taken the stand.

And so, an awful story has just become impossible to process. And the worst part is that the jury, sequestered in deliberations, does not know.

At the very beginning of the trial, before the prosecution called its first witness, two of the people sitting in the section of the courtroom reserved for Sandusky's supporters were asked to leave: his wife, Dottie, and Matt. They left because they were potential witnesses.

Dottie was obvious. Matt was a different story. But it became clear quickly, when the first prosecution witness, known as alleged victim No. 4, described a scene in a Penn State shower where he, Matt and Jerry Sandusky were all naked and showering after playing racquetball.

No. 4 said that Jerry began what he called a "soap fight" involving liquid soap from a dispenser. Previously, he had described that as a routine prelude to being assaulted. When this soap fight started, he said, "At that point, Matt shut off the shower and left," going to another part of the locker room for a shower.

Asked to describe Matt's facial expression when the soap fight started, the alleged victim answered with a single word.

"Nervous," he said.

The working assumption was that Matt would come to the stand during the defense case and say he was not nervous. Sitting there with Dottie on the first day, and then as they both left the courtroom as potential witnesses, it must have been Matt's assumption, too.

So what happened? We know that his birth mother, Debra Long, has previously testified to a grand jury that she had suspicions about Sandusky. But we do not know when Matt changed his mind, or why he changed it, or what was the trigger, or what kind of hell he was ready to describe to the jury. The only certainty is that he did not testify after all.

So, where was Matt?

Simple question; heartbreaking answer.

Contact Rich Hofmann at hofmanr@phillynews.com, read his blog, The Idle Rich, at www.philly.com/TheIdleRich, or follow @theidlerich on Twitter. For recent columns, go to philly.com/RichHofmann. We invite you to comment on this story by clicking here. Comments will be moderated.

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