Jerry Sandusky’s attorneys mounted their first defense today. As expected, their witnesses gave bombshell testimony, although not in the way Amendola intended.
However, the day began with the prosecution presenting its last witness, Victim 9’s mother. She was emotional and hyperventilating as she testified. She supported her 18-year-old son’s testimony about the changes in his behavior, a phone call he made asking her to come and get him, and the issue of his missing underwear:
The mother said that her son called her once from Sandusky’s house asking her to pick him up immediately because he was feeling sick. In his testimony Thursday, Victim 9 said he called his mom for help once when Sandusky was sexually abusing him, but did not tell his mother the reason for the call.
Victim 9’s mother testified that he suffered medical problems during ages 15, 16, and 17 when he had severe stomach problems and trouble going to the bathroom. She said he also never put his underwear into the laundry, always telling his mother that he had an accident and threw them out.
The mother also testified that she felt responsible for what happened to her son because when the boy would object to going with Sandusky she would talk him into it.
With her testimony finished, the state rested what looks to be a solid case. While there some individual issues, as a whole the case makes a compelling argument beyond a reasonable doubt that Sandusky abused at least some of the boys. However, Judge Cleland stated outside of the jury’s presence that he had doubts about the state’s case:
I’ve been concerned about this since the beginning,” Cleland said. “There were very broad representations made by the Commonwealth on the bill of particulars. Since then, the Commonwealth has submitted an amended bill of particulars, and amended their information, which I believe now meets the standards of due process. Although early on I certainly was not persuaded that that was the case.”
That stands in contrast to Cleland blocking every request Amendola presented. Such actions suggest that he thought the case was strong. Even with his statement today, Cleland still decided to let a jury decide on issues like the lack of physical evidence or a victim in the case involving Mike McQueary’s testimony.
The trial continued, and Amendola put on his first witnesses. It went fine until two former coaches testified:
[Richard] Anderson and another former Penn State assistant coach, Booker Brooks, testified that it isn’t unusual for coaches to share showers with their players and youth camp charges after a day of hard physical work, saying he had done so himself many times.
“Throughout my life as a football coach, I’ve showered with younger men than myself — throughout my life and even currently right now, since I am a grandfather I take my grandchild to the local YMCA. Since she’s not old enough to go into a room by herself, we go in and we shower together,” Brooks said.
Anderson’s statement actually occurred during cross-examination. The prosecutor followed that comment up with a question about whether it was appropriate for Anderson to give a child a bear hug in the shower, Anderson answered no.
The coaches testimony apparently stunned the gallery and reporters. To be honest, I do not find an issue with this, and I think many people’s reaction has more to do with the way we as a society view nudity and men than it does with any inappropriate behavior on the coaches part. That said, there was apparently no explanation for why middle schoolers would need to shower at Penn State. That is the more curious element that the prosecutors never asked about and the defense never explained.
The defense plans on using histrionic personality disorder as an explanation for Sandusky’s behavior. This disorder causes a person to become dramatic and attention-seeking. That disorder, however, does not do anything to address the allegations of rape against Sandusky. It also opens the door for the prosecutor being able to present an expert to talk about how pedophiles and sex offenders think if Amendola is not careful during his direct examination. If he asks too broad questions or if his expert mentions pedophilia or sex offenders, that could open the door for the state.