Sandusky's lawyers criticize speed of trial
BELLEFONTE, Pa. - Jerry Sandusky’s lawyers said Saturday they tried to quit at the start of jury selection in his child sex abuse trial because they weren’t given enough time to prepare, raising an argument on the trial’s speed that could become the thrust of an appeal.
And one of the jurors who convicted Sandusky of 45 child sex abuse counts said Saturday he was swayed by the “very convincing’’ testimony of eight accusers who said the retired Penn State assistant football coach molested them for years.
“It’s hard to judge character on the stand, because you don’t know these kids,’’ juror Joshua Harper told NBC’s “Today’’ show. “But most were very credible - I would say all.’’
A day after Sandusky’s conviction, his lawyers disclosed they felt too unprepared to adequately defend him because of how quickly the case was brought to trial. Experts have said the seven months between Sandusky’s November arrest and trial was fast by Pennsylvania standards.
“We told the trial court, the Superior Court, and the Supreme Court we were not prepared to proceed to trial in June due to numerous issues, and we asked to withdraw from the case for those reasons,’’ attorney Joe Amendola said. Judge John Cleland denied the request.
Jurors in the two-week trial convicted Sandusky of 45 of the 48 counts against him, meaning Sandusky, 68, likely will die in prison. Sentencing is pending.
The case is poised to move to an investigation of university officials’ role in reporting the charges; two ex-school administrators face trial on charges they didn’t properly report former assistant coach Mike McQueary’s account of the suspected abuse he witnessed in the Penn State showers in 2001.
Almost immediately after the verdict, Penn State president Rodney Erickson signaled an openness to quickly settle potential civil lawsuits arising from the convictions, saying the school “wants to provide a forum where the university can privately, expeditiously, and fairly address the victims’ concerns and compensate them for claims.’’
The university recently reported a $1.8 billion endowment. But both sides have reasons not to want to go to court, said Jason Kutulakis, a lawyer who specializes in child welfare and juvenile law. Victims are reluctant to get on the stand and have their credibility attacked, he said.
But “Penn State’s got so much egg on their face, they probably just want to make it all go away,’’ he said.
For now, the school is facing one lawsuit from an accuser, Travis Weaver, who was not among those represented in the criminal case against Sandusky.
The next step is to determine the extent of Penn State’s culpability, lawyers say.
The former Penn State officials facing charges, athletic director Tim Curley and retired vice president Gary Schultz, are charged with lying to a grand jury about what they knew of the incident in which McQueary said he saw Sandusky assaulting a boy in a football team shower.