In a back room of the Centre County courthouse, behind a half-open door, Jerry Sandusky paced, one hand in his suit pocket, the other holding a cell phone to his ear. Sandusky’s defense had just rested their case. Judge John Cleland adjourned court.
Whoever Sandusky was on the phone with, the call lasted less than a minute. Then, slouching, Sandusky returned to his attorneys. But first he shuffled past the prosecution, his suit brushing against their suits. “Excuse me,” he muttered.
A few minutes earlier, he had been excused, but not by his own request. For all defense attorney Joe Amendola‘s talk about Sandusky testifying, well, put simply, Sandusky did not. Apparently, he wanted to. During a nearly 45-minute recess, Sandusky met with his attorneys in the back room, where they convinced him not to testify, Amendola confirmed with reporters after court.
On the final day of testimony, a few more character witnesses described Sandusky’s philanthropic pre-trial reputation. Physician Jonathan Dranov testified. When Mike McQueary told his father, John, he had seen something sexual happening with Sandusky and alleged victim no. 2, the senior McQueary had called Dranov, a family friend.
“I kept saying, ‘What did you see?’” Dranov testified that he asked Mike McQueary. McQueary didn’t described sodomy, but rather skin-on-skin slapping sounds, Dranov testified. “His voice was trembling, his hands were shaking, he was visibly shaken,” Dranov said. So Dranov told him he needed to report the incident to his supervisor, Joe Paterno, which is what McQueary did the next morning.
Dranov’s account differed from McQueary’s. Last week, McQueary testified that he saw something sexual happening between Sandusky and a boy (who hasn’t come forward) three times: once in a locker room mirror, second when he turned around, and third on his way out of the locker room. Dranov testified that McQueary told him that he looked at the young boy in the shower and then Sandusky pulled him back in.
Other than saying during his testimony, “I’m human,” McQueary hasn’t given an excuse for his changing stories regarding the incident.
Sandusky’s defense attempted to have Patriot News reporter Sara Ganim testify, too. “Where is she?” Judge Cleland asked earlier today, before calling a court recess. Ganim, who broke the Jerry Sandusky story and won a Pulitzer for her coverage, chatted on a cell phone outside the courtroom. Then she walked through the courtroom’s double doors and court resumed.
Ganim stood up, her arms crossed over her red silk sleeveless top, but she would not need to testify. The emails she sent to one of her sources—a mother of one of the alleged victims—had already been turned over to the authorities. In those emails, she apparently told the source to talk to authorities about the accusations.
It was another attempt on the defense’s behalf to insinuate that there were other forces—the media, the government—at work trying to take down Jerry Sandusky.
For some locals, the media has been an enemy since last November, when ESPN broadcast live from student riots on the night Joe Paterno was fired. A photo of those riots landed on the front page of the New York Times. Dozens of news trucks were parked around Penn State’s campus last fall. The news trucks rolled back into Centre County for this trial, with about a dozen stationed outside the courthouse.
The trucks had to move last Friday because they were parked smack in the middle of the Bellefonte Cruise, a classic-car show that’s a town tradition. The local newspaper, the Centre Daily Times, ran an op-ed after a local questioned why trial coverage has been played out on the front page each day. Some residents arrived early in the morning to see firsthand what they’ve read about. And the buzz was that Sandusky would take the stand.
The public wanted to hear him speak. Connie Boland, a central Pennsylvania school counselor, waited outside the courthouse with three of her friends at 3:30 this morning. “I want him to tell me he didn’t do this,” Boland said. Angered, she says she came to the trial because she had recommended the Second Mile, the charity Sandusky founded, to some of her students. When she learned of the accusations, she said she felt like she had been punched in the gut. Today, after court adjourned, she said, “I feel like I got punched again. His wife [Dottie Sandusky] testified, but he couldn’t protect himself.”
All week, the defense has tried to make excuses for Sandusky’s behavior: histrionic personality disorder, government conspiracies, media bias. But in the end, Sandusky chose not to speak for himself, even though Amendola told the jury in his opening statements that they’d hear from him.
When I asked Amendola after court one day last week if it were true that Sandusky would testify, he said, “I’m a Catholic. I don’t lie.”