Bellefonte, Pa. • Jurors in Jerry Sandusky’s child sex abuse trial listened again Friday to testimony from a key prosecution witness against the former Penn State assistant football coach, then went back behind closed doors for a second day of deliberations.
The jury had talked for more than eight hours Thursday before adjourning at the end of a long session that featured dueling portrayals of Sandusky as a “predatory pedophile” or the victim of a conspiracy between investigators and his accusers.
They started their second day by rehearing testimony given by another Penn State assistant, Mike McQueary, about an unknown boy allegedly assaulted by Sandusky inside a football facility shower.
The jurors took copious notes, appearing to pay close attention to McQueary’s statement that he did not see penetration, but did see a boy pressed up against a wall with Sandusky behind him.
Jurors also reheard the testimony of a McQueary family friend, Jonathan Dranov, who said that McQueary told him a different version of the story that didn’t include the then-graduate assistant seeing sexual contact.
However, McQueary testified that he hadn’t told Dranov all that he saw.
As attorneys read the testimony from transcripts, Sandusky paid close attention while his wife, Dottie, sat behind him. It was the first time Dottie Sandusky heard the testimony, because she wasn’t present when the two men took the stand.
Sandusky is accused of sexually abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period, using his charity for at-risk youth, The Second Mile, as a source of victims who would be dazzled by gifts, grateful for his attention and — perhaps most importantly — unlikely to speak up.
Sandusky has repeatedly denied the allegations. The defense portrayed him as the hapless victim of a conspiracy to convict him of heinous crimes. They explain the 48 charges against him as the result of an investigatory team out for blood and accusers who willingly played along in hopes of securing a big payday.
Shortly after the jury began deliberations Thursday, attorneys for Sandusky’s 33-year-old adopted son, Matt, dropped a bombshell, saying he’d been abused by the former coach and had been prepared to testify against him if called to the stand.
Sequestered during deliberations, the jury was under orders from Judge John Cleland to ponder only the case placed in their hands.
The jury heard from eight accusers who claim Sandusky engaging in sexual contact ranging from kissing and fondling to forced oral or anal sex.
One testified he felt at times like Sandusky’s son, at others his “girlfriend.”
A second accuser — a foster child at the time authorities say he was abused — said Sandusky threatened he would never see his biological family again if he told anyone he was forced to perform sex acts but later took it back and claimed to love him.
One accuser testified to receiving what he called “creepy love letters” from Sandusky. “I know that I have made my share of mistakes,” read one handwritten note. “However, I hope that I will be able to say that I cared. There has been love in my heart.”
The defense said the longwinded letters were simply the manifestation of a personality disorder characterized by excessive emotionality and attention seeking.
Two people who prosecutors say were sexually abused by Sandusky haven’t been identified. McQueary’s testimony is the basis for charges involving one of those alleged victims.
It was also McQueary’s testimony that touched off the massive scandal that rocked Penn State and forced a re-examination of the role of college administrators in reporting abuse allegations.
Sandusky has denied the allegations, but did not testify in his own defense. Jurors are aware, however, of the denials he gave “Rock Center” just after his arrest. In it, Sandusky seemed to stumble at times and struggled to give direct answers to questions about his conduct.
Asked if he was sexually attracted to boys, Sandusky told NBC’s Bob Costas: “Sexually attracted, you know, I, I enjoy young people. I, I love to be around them. ... No, I’m not sexually attracted to young boys.”
Senior Deputy Attorney General Joseph McGettigan III seized on that in closing arguments, saying: “I would think that the automatic response, if someone asks you if you’re a criminal, a pedophile, a child molester, or anything along those lines, would be: ‘You’re crazy. No. Are you nuts?’”
Prosecutors said Sandusky used gifts and the allure of Penn State’s vaunted football program to attract and abuse vulnerable boys who came from troubled homes, often ones without a father figure in the house.
“What you should do is come out and say to the defendant that he molested and abused and give them back their souls,” McGettigan told jurors. “I give them to you. Acknowledge and give them justice.”
Defense attorney Joe Amendola argued that Sandusky was targeted by investigators who coached accusers into making false claims about a generous man whose charity gave them much-needed love.
“So out of the blue (after) all these years, when Jerry Sandusky is in his mid-50s, he decides to become a pedophile? Does that make sense to anybody?” Amendola asked rhetorically.
The jury, which includes nine people with ties to Penn State, had already begun deliberating when Matt Sandusky’s attorneys issued a statement alleging that his father abused him.
“During the trial, Matt Sandusky contacted us and requested our advice and assistance in arranging a meeting with prosecutors to disclose for the first time in this case that he is a victim of Jerry Sandusky’s abuse,” Andrew Shubin and Justine Andronici said in the statement. “At Matt’s request, we immediately arranged a meeting between him and the prosecutors and investigators.
“This has been an extremely painful experience for Matt and he has asked us to convey his request that the media respect his privacy. There will be no further comment.”
Matt Sandusky went to live with Sandusky and his wife as a foster child and was adopted by them as an adult. He is one of Jerry Sandusky’s six adopted children.
Shortly after Jerry Sandusky’s arrest, Matt Sandusky’s ex-wife went to court to keep her former father-in-law away from their three young children. Jill Jones successfully obtained a restraining order forbidding the children from sleeping over at their grandparents’ home.
Around the same time, details emerged that Matt Sandusky had attempted suicide just four months after first going to live with the couple in 1995. He had come into the home through The Second Mile.
Shortly after the suicide attempt, Sandusky’s probation officer wrote, “The probation department has some serious concerns about the juvenile’s safety and his current progress in placement with the Sandusky family,” according to court records supplied to The Associated Press by his birth mother, Debra Long.
Despite those concerns, probation and child welfare officials recommended continued placement with the Sandusky family, and the judge overseeing his case agreed.
During testimony last week, an accuser known as Victim 4 said Matt Sandusky was living at the Sandusky home at the time he stayed there overnight and testified that Jerry Sandusky came into the shower with the two boys and “started pumping his hand full of soap.” Matt Sandusky shut off the shower and left, appearing nervous, the witness said.
On Friday, three of Matt Sandusky’s siblings — Jeffrey Sandusky, Jon Sandusky and Kara Werner — were in court with their parents.
Another son, Ray Sandusky, who lives in Brentwood, Tenn., said he had no comment and closed the door on an Associated Press reporter.
A sixth Sandusky child, E.J., could not be located by the AP on Friday.