Posted Jun 11, 2012 06:15 pm CDT
Updated: A group of young men who have accused a former Pennsylvania State University assistant football coach of sexually abusing them as youths have a financial interest in the outcome of the criminal case in which he is now at trial, defense counsel said Monday in opening statements. And defense lawyer Joe Amendola said that a young assistant coach was mistaken when he allegedly thought he saw a naked Jerry Sandusky attacking a youth in a shower in 2001.
Sandusky did shower with children on occasion, Amendola told the Bellefonte, Pa., jury—but he did so innocuously, the Associated Press reports.
“In Jerry’s culture, growing up in his generation, where he grew up, he’s going to tell you it was routine for individuals to get showers together,” Amendola said. “I suspect for those of you who might have been in athletics, it’s routine.”
Senior Deputy Attorney General Joseph McGettigan III painted Sandusky as a sexual predator, contending that he groomed boys from troubled homes he met through a children’s charity in which he was involved, and that he gave them gifts before abusing them.
Now 68 and retired, Sandusky is facing 52 charges concerning 10 youths he is accused of abusing over a 15-year period. The oldest claimed victim expected to testify against him is 28.
That witness testified later in the day, contending that Sandusky escalated from “soap battles” in the shower when he was a young teenager to inappropriate touching, oral sex and “creepy love letters,” according to a subsequent CBS News article to which the AP contributed.
“I know that I have made my share of mistakes,” read a letter on Penn State stationery signed Jerry that was shown to the jury. “However I hope that I will be able to say that I cared. There has been love in my heart.”
Although the witness hadn’t wanted the sexual attention from Sandusky, he said he enjoyed the access he got to sporting events as a result of the connection with the assistant coach and had believed, based on encouragement from Sandusky, that he had a chance at being a football player himself even though he weighed about 100 pounds.
Additional and related coverage:
ABAJournal.com: “Judge Nixes Tweets and Pseudonyms for Witnesses as Jerry Sandusky Child Sex-Abuse Trial Looms”
ABC News: “Jerry Sandusky Trial: The Major Players”
Los Angeles Times: “Prosecutors call Jerry Sandusky ‘predatory pedophile’”
Philadelphia Inquirer: “Sandusky scandal intertwined with economic disparities”
Updated at 5:05 p.m. to include information from CBS News article.