Harrisburg, Pa. • Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, facing trial next week on charges he sexually abused 10 boys, on Thursday asked a state appeals court to review his case and to delay the criminal proceedings against him.
The Superior Court’s online docket indicated Sandusky filed a petition for review but did not explain what he was seeking. Sandusky also asked the court to seal the document, which was not available after business hours.
The judge in Sandusky’s criminal case, John Cleland, on Wednesday denied a defense request for a continuance and a second request that would have given Sandusky the right to seek immediate Superior Court review of that decision.
Sandusky lawyer Joe Amendola, citing a gag order in the case, declined to comment on Thursday, as did a spokesman for the attorney general’s office.
Sandusky, 68, awaits trial on dozens of criminal charges alleging he abused the boys, some on campus, over a 15-year period. He has repeatedly denied the allegations and tried to delay the trial, scheduled to begin with jury selection on Tuesday and opening statements June 11.
Penn State’s president said the university has been trying hard to put the child sex abuse scandal in its rearview mirror and is healing.
President Rodney Erickson made his case before a pair of newspaper editorial boards on Wednesday and Thursday, talking up Penn State’s response to the massive scandal, which tarnished its image and led to the ousters of Hall of Fame football coach Joe Paterno and Erickson’s predecessor, Graham Spanier, whose presidency ended days after Sandusky was charged in November.
Erickson said Penn State is seeking to become a leader in the fight against child abuse, pointing out the school donated $2.6 million in bowl revenues to a group that operates rape crisis centers and to its new center for child abuse research and treatment.
"The university really has been moving ahead. Sometimes it’s hard to get that message out," Erickson told Harrisburg’s The Patriot-News on Thursday, adding: "It’s been a difficult time, but I think in many ways we continue to heal."
A day earlier, Erickson told State College’s Centre Daily Times that Penn State has created a "degree of separation" from the scandal through the academic, athletic and charitable achievements of its students and faculty.
Many alumni were infuriated when Paterno was fired a few days after Sandusky was charged, saying the university board of trustees rushed to judgment. Paterno died in January at age 85, and his family has been critical of the way the school handled the situation.
But Erickson told the Harrisburg newspaper that he has a "good relationship" with Paterno’s widow, Sue Paterno, and son Jay Paterno.
"Sue and Jay have never left the fold. They have been strong supporters over many months," said Erickson, who also praised new coach Bill O’Brien’s efforts to win over fans.
Erickson also said he took part in a "broad-ranging" three-hour interview with Louis Freeh, the former FBI director hired by Penn State’s board of trustees to investigate the Sandusky scandal. Erickson declined to provide details of what he told Freeh. He said he isn’t getting regular updates on the probe and will see Freeh’s report when it is released to the public.
Erickson briefly addressed a lawsuit filed last week by Spanier, who said he wants to force the school to release emails related to the scandal so he can be better prepared to assist the Freeh investigation. Erickson agreed with Spanier’s attorneys that Penn State was instructed by the state attorney general’s office not to divulge the information, "so that’s the position we took."
Though Erickson has been subpoenaed, he said he has not testified before the grand jury.
Apart from the Sandusky scandal, Erickson also repeated a commitment to keep the 2012-13 tuition increase at or below the rate of inflation if lawmakers succeed in their effort to roll back Republican Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposal to cut 20 percent from the school’s annual share of state aid.
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