Following Graphic Testimony, Sandusky Set to Present Defense
By the CNN Wire Staff
BELLEFONTE, Pennsylvania (CNN) — For the first week of his trial, former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky often left the Pennsylvania courtroom with a smile — even after testimony from eight people accusing him, in emotional and graphic terms, of sexually abusing them as boys.
He should finally get a chance to present his case when the trial resumes this week, after a three-day break.
Prosecutors are expected to take care of some routine evidentiary matters Monday, then officially rest their case. After that happens, Sandusky’s attorneys can call experts and witnesses of their own, including possibly letting the 68-year-old longtime Nittany Lions’ defensive coordinator defend himself on 52 counts tied to what prosecutors say was his abuse of at least 10 boys in a 15-year span.
A main focus of the defense’s strategy may be to poke holes at the prosecution’s case thus far.
“A lot of people lied,” lawyer Joe Amendola said last Monday in his opening statement.
Over four days, several people testified that Sandusky forced them to engage in sexual acts with him in various places — from showers in the Penn State coaches’ locker room, to hotel rooms, to the basement of his home.
One told jurors that Sandusky, whom he met like many alleged victims through the Second Mile nonprofit for disadvantaged youth the ex-coach founded, had threatened him if he told others about the abuse. Another said Sandusky warned he may send him home from a trip to Texas, where they’d gone to watch a Penn State bowl game, if he resisted the sexual advances.
“There’s a tsunami of evidence against him,” veteran criminal defense attorney Ron Kuby said.
The defense could challenge the alleged victims’ timetable, questioning if Sandusky could have committed the crimes they claim he did, when they say he did them.
Some of the accusers have civil attorneys, Amendola noted last week, calling that unusual. Others, he said, have a financial interest in the case — an allegation that was denied by the accusers and their attorneys.
But Howard Janet, who represents Alleged Victim 6, blasted Amendola’s assertion that his client and others detailed the abuse just so they could sue Sandusky as nonsense.
“Does that mean that none of them are telling the truth, because they’ve gone to hire a lawyer?” he said. “That’s absurd.”
The defense is expected to call an expert witness to testify that Sandusky may have “histrionic personality disorder,” which the National Institutes of Health defines as acting “in a very emotional and dramatic way that draws attention to themselves.”
The prosecution had presented as evidence what one alleged victim described as “creepy love letters,” written by Sandusky, that they argued were part of “grooming techniques” commonly employed by sexual predators.
Judge John Cleland issued an order on Friday granting a defense motion — requested days letter — allowing them to offer expert testimony from a psychologist who “will explain that the words, tones, requests and statements made in the letters are consistent with a person who suffers from a Histrionic Personality Disorder.”
“The goal of a person suffering from this disorder in writing those letters would not necessarily be to groom or sexually consummate a relationship in a criminal manner, but rather to satisfy the needs of a psyche belabored by the needs of such a disorder,” the defense lawyers wrote in their motion.
Sandusky was expected to be examined Sunday by a prosecution psychologist related to the personality disorder defense, according to a source with knowledge with the case. It was not clear if that happened.
Another person who could testify is Dottie Sandusky, the accused ex-coach’s wife. While many alleged victims knew her, she is not accused of having witnessed any sexual abuse.
Lastly, there’s the question of whether Sandusky himself will take the stand.
Amendola told jurors last week that Sandusky routinely “got showers with kids” after working out and that he would say so later.
Kuby, the prominent criminal defense lawyer, said having the former coach testify may give him his best chance at avoiding jail time.
“Just maybe he can convince one juror to hold out,” the lawyer said. “A hung jury, right now, is a lot better than life without parole.”
CNN’s Susan Candiotti contributed to this report.