Jerry Sandusky’s defense team finished with their case today without Sandusky taking the witness stand, something some court watchers had expected to happen given the direction of the defense so far. By advancing a theory of a psychological personality disorder some thought that Sandusky might testify simply to deny the allegation in front of the jury. That path is a highly calculated risk as Sandusky would have been met with a cross examination listing each allegation by each victim. The ending was surprisingly sudden and marked the end of the seventh day of the former Penn State assistant football coach’s trial.
So far, jurors have heard graphic and often upsetting testimony from eight men between the ages of 18 and 28, each describing the sexual abuse inflicted on them at the hands of Sandusky. Sandusky has been charged with 51 counts of sexual abuse relating to incidents with 10 boys over a span of 15 years. Though Sandusky has denied the charges, he has given interviews where he admitted to showering with boys on several different occasions.
The victims described incidents ranging from fondling to forced oral and anal sex. Each told a story of grooming before the abuse began, with Sandusky giving presents and lavishing praise on his future victims. He met each of the victims through his work with the charity for disadvantaged youths, the Second Mile.
For their part, the defense attorneys have tried to attack the accusers as being motivated by attention and financial compensation. They brought out a parade of character witnesses, including friends, coworkers from the Second Mile and his wife who said her husband did not and would not ever do anything inappropriate with young boys.
One witness was a family friend of Mike McQueary, Dr. Jonathan Dranoy, who spoke with McQueary the day he witnessed Sandusky in a shower in the Penn State locker-room assaulting a young boy. Dranoy said the description that McQueary gave him that day does not line up with the one he told the jurors. McQueary earlier explained that he had given an incomplete description to Dranoy because he was shaken. On cross-examination by the prosecution Dranoy admitted that McQueary was visibly upset, shaking and emotional as he discussed what he’d seen earlier that day.
Some expected Sandusky to testify on his own behalf but his lawyers and Sandusky had different ideas. The decision to wrap up the defense Wednesday came after a 40-minute meeting behind closed doors between the defense attorneys, Sandusky and the judge. In Pennsylvania, like in many states, if a defendant does not wish to testify on his own behalf he must waive his right to do so. However, in Pennsylvania this waiver does not have to happen in open court and, as here, can take place in the private with the judge.
The final stage of the trial will happen Thursday when both sides making their closing arguments and the case will be sent to the jury.
Read: “Sandusky trial: Defense rests without calling Sandusky to testify,” by Genaro Armas, published atCSMonitor.com.
(Lee Davis is a Chattanooga attorney who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 266-0605.)