Lawyers in the Jerry Sandusky case called on the carpet over leaked interview tape

Matt Sandusky told police he had been abused by Jerry Sandusky, his adoptive father. The interview was leaked.
Matt Sandusky told police he had been abused by Jerry Sandusky, his adoptive father. The interview was leaked. (GENE J. PUSKAR / Associated Press)
Posted: June 28, 2012

The presiding judge in Jerry Sandusky's child sex-abuse trial challenged lawyers Tuesday after a recorded interview between state police and the former coach's youngest adopted son was leaked to NBC News.

The 29-minute recording, aired on Today, was made a day after 33-year-old Matt Sandusky first approached prosecutors last week alleging that he, too, had been sexually abused by Sandusky.

In it, Matt Sandusky describes a pattern of molestation that he says began when he was 8, after he met the former Pennsylvania State University assistant football coach through the Second Mile, the charity Sandusky founded for underprivileged youths.

"It just became very uncomfortable. You know, just with everything that was going on," Matt Sandusky says on the recording. "With the showering, with the hugging, with the rubbing, with the - just talking to me. The way he spoke. . . . Anything, any time we were alone. . . ."

Within hours of the broadcast, Judge John M. Cleland summoned prosecutors and Jerry Sandusky's lawyers to account for the leak. Neither side admitted releasing the tape, defense lawyer Karl Rominger said.

In an order filed in Centre County Court later in the day, Cleland barred both sides from releasing any further information that was not presented as evidence at Sandusky's trial, to protect "the integrity of ongoing criminal investigations" and "the privacy of others who may testify, or have testified, before the investigating grand jury."

Cleland also ordered defense lawyers to provide a list of all case materials they had given out. A similar order for prosecutors would be more appropriate coming from the judge overseeing the state's grand jury investigation into the case, he said.

"It would be illogical for the defense to put that kind of material out," Rominger said. "If you look at the history of this case, there have been leaks from the beginning - before Jerry even had attorneys."

Prosecutors would not comment. A source close to the attorney general's investigation who was not authorized to speak publicly said that only two copies of the June 18 interview between Matt Sandusky and a state police investigator were made at the time of recording.

Aside from Cleland, only three groups of people knew that conversation had taken place - prosecutors, defense lawyers, and Matt Sandusky's attorneys, Andrew Shubin and Justine Andronici.

"Although the tape was released without Matt's knowledge or permission, it illustrates that he made the difficult decision to come forward and tell the painful truth to investigators despite extraordinary pressure to support his father," Shubin and Andronici said in a statement released Tuesday.

Matt Sandusky emerged as another potential victim of molestation through a similar leak last week.

Hours after jurors began deliberations in his father's criminal trial Thursday, news broke that Matt Sandusky had spoken to prosecutors about testifying against him. He had previously been listed as a defense witness.

Those conversations should have remained a secret, Shubin said. But as questions persisted, his client decided to publicly confirm his allegations against the former coach.

"I came forward for different reasons," Matt Sandusky explained to investigators on the recording. "I mean, for my family, so that they can really have closure and see what the truth actually is."

On the recording, Matt Sandusky describes a pattern of abuse similar to that outlined by the eight young men who testified against Jerry Sandusky during his trial.

Like them, he said he met the former coach through the Second Mile, was coaxed into naked showers, and found himself being groped while sleeping at the Sandusky house.

Jerry Sandusky eventually welcomed the boy, then known as Matt Heichel, into his family of five other adopted children. The process was formalized when Matt turned 18.

Last week, Matt Sandusky told investigators that at times the abuse got so bad that he tried to flee from their house barefoot in the middle of winter and once attempted suicide by overdosing on aspirin. But he said he was never forced into oral or anal sex by the former coach, as some of Jerry Sandusky's other victims alleged.

"I really wanted to die at that point," Matt Sandusky said on the recording. He added that memories of his abuse recently resurfaced in therapy.

Jerry Sandusky, 68, is in protective custody at the Centre County Jail pending a sentencing hearing expected to send him to prison for the rest of his life.

A jury convicted him Friday of 45 counts of child sex-abuse involving 10 boys he met through the Second Mile. He faces no charges related to the alleged abuse of his son.

On Monday, Cleland ordered Sandusky to undergo an assessment to determine whether he qualifies as a sexually violent predator. The procedure is standard for all defendants convicted of sexual crimes.

The former coach maintains that he is innocent of abusing his son or anyone else.

"He's upset about the verdict," Rominger said. "But he's focused not so much on how it will affect him, but how it will affect his immediate family and the people that supported him."

Rominger visited Sandusky in jail Monday and said that despite the tight restrictions of his solitary confinement, he seemed to be doing well.

Though he said he had spoken to Jerry Sandusky's wife, Dorothy, he would not say what they talked about or discuss her relationship with Sandusky since the verdict.

"She's a strong woman," he said. "The single greatest insult to him of this whole thing is that he has been with his wife exclusively all of his life. Now, this verdict suggests otherwise."


Contact Jeremy Roebuck at 267-564-5218 or jroebuck@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @jeremyrroebuck.

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