Sporting a cool-mint-green sweater and matching shirt, Dottie Sandusky—nicknamed “The Sarge” by her six adopted kids for being strict—clutched her handbag as she took the witness stand yesterday.
She smiled. She apologetically sighed when she couldn’t recall dates. She winked at her friends from across the courtroom. She leaned forward, stuck her neck out and scrunched her eyebrows when the lead prosecutor in her husband’s trial, Joe McGettigan, asked her questions.
The Sarge came prepped for battle. And she hung tough with McGettigan, as he asked her about each of the alleged victims. Did she hear a scream from the basement? No. How’s her hearing? Fine. Does she remember each of the alleged victims? Some, but not all. She said some of the boys were difficult and had behavioral problems, and that they did not spend as much time at her house as they testified they did.
She seemed honest. But perhaps too honest. When McGettigan asked if she knew Mike McQueary, the former Penn State graduate assistant football coach who says he saw Sandusky sodomizing a boy in a Penn State locker room shower, she answered that her son and McQueary had played on the same high-school football team.
“Why would Mike McQueary lie?” McGettigan asked. “I, I – ” Dottie stuttered. “I don’t know why.”
Earlier in the morning, the defense questioned the legitimacy of the investigation into no. 4’s allegations. Sandusky attorney Joe Amendola argued that alleged victim no. 4’s attorney, Ben Andreozzi, had planted seeds of false abuse allegations in his client’s head for the purposes of capitalizing on civil suits against Sandusky and Penn State later on.
Years later, no. 4 took his girlfriend and toddler to the Sandusky house for a KFC dinner. Also in attendance was Sandusky friend Elaine Steinbacher, who testified as a character witness for Sandusky.
“I remember commenting to Dottie, ‘Wow, you’re going to see a lot of them because obviously he’s looking for foster grandparents,’” she said.
Sandusky’s defense also attempted to offer an excuse for why Sandusky wrote letters to some of the alleged victims. Psychologist Elliot Atkins testified that he diagnosed Sandusky with histrionic personality disorder, meaning Sandusky is overly theatrical, dramatic and attention-seeking.
For the prosecution, Philadelphia psychiatrist John O’Brien testified that he did not think Sandusky has histrionic personality disorder. “[People with histrionic personality disorder] have a lot of difficulty being on the sidelines, or being assistant coach or being routinely upstaged by their boss,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien said Sandusky showed symptoms of psychosexual disorder, but that he wouldn’t be able to make a complete diagnosis since it hinges on the result of the trial. Atkins’s test could be faulty. O’Brien said Sandusky’s tests reflected that he “may have been quite concerned that the results … be used against him or be damaging against his self interests. … In this particular case, the context is a high stakes one,” O’Brien said.
Maybe that’s why Sandusky couldn’t look his wife in the eye when she took the stand. Instead, he turned to the courtroom projector screen. McGettigan flipped through childhood photos of the eight alleged victims who have come forward. McGettigan asked Dottie if she remembered any of them. Some she did, others she didn’t.
Sandusky didn’t look at the photos. He didn’t look at his wife. Instead, he closed his eyes. Following her testimony, Dottie left with her handbag and exited the courthouse without her husband.
Editor’s note: This is an updated version of an earlier post.