Defense resumes as Sandusky sex abuse trial winds down
(Note: explicit sexual content)
BELLEFONTE, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - The defense for accused child sex offender Jerry Sandusky resumes on Tuesday after a first day of testimony in which witnesses for the former Penn State football coach vouched for his good character.
The high-profile trial is in its final stages, with Judge John Cleland telling jurors on Monday he expected closing arguments to take place on Thursday.
The jury of seven women and five men then will be sequestered at a local hotel, he said.
Sandusky, 68, the former defensive coordinator for Pennsylvania State University's high-powered football program, is accused of abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period, some at university facilities.
The charges focused renewed national attention on child sexual abuse and prompted the firing in November of university President Graham Spanier and legendary head football coach Joe Paterno.
Eight of the alleged victims, now men aged 18 to 28, offered sometimes-graphic testimony last week for the prosecution. The testimony included accounts of molestation ranging from groping and bear hugs in football showers to oral and anal sex.
With defense attorney Joe Amendola seeking a more upbeat assessment of Sandusky, two former Penn State assistant coaches, Booker Brooks and Richard Anderson, testified that it was not unusual for men to shower with boys in Penn State locker rooms.
Anderson said he had seen Sandusky in the showers with children, but never saw anything inappropriate. Brooks told jurors he had also showered with children and he considered Sandusky "a great guy."
"A LOT OF GOOFING AROUND"
Another witness, political campaign strategist David Pasquinelli, testified he had worked with Sandusky on a fundraising campaign from October 2007 to spring 2009 for the Second Mile charity, a group Sandusky had founded for at-risk youth.
Asked by Amendola to characterize the interaction between Sandusky and children, he said: "I saw a lot of goofing around. Jerry had a very unique way, and many of us were inspired by this, to relate to youth" on several levels.
Amendola has said he will call Sandusky to testify, but Tom Kline, a lawyer for one of the alleged victims, told Reuters there probably was not enough time for the former coach to take the stand.
The judge said the defense planned to conclude at midday on Wednesday, and Sandusky alone would probably take a half day to a full day for testimony, Kline said.
Earlier Monday, the final prosecution witness testified that her son, who told jurors last week he bled from being anally raped, was often missing his underwear when he returned from visits with Sandusky.
When she noticed her son did not have his underwear when he came home, the boy would tell her he had an accident and threw them out.
Sandusky had faced 52 counts of child molestation, but the prosecution dropped one charge of unlawful contact with minors on Monday.
Two university officials also face charges of perjury and failure to report suspected abuse in an alleged incident involving Sandusky and a boy at a Penn State locker room.