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Sandusky Judge Delays Ruling on Alleged Penn State Sex Abuse Case Evidence

March 12, 2012

The judge overseeing Jerry Sandusky’s sexual-abuse case will rule later on the former Pennsylvania State University assistant football coach’s request for more details about the crimes he’s accused of.

Sandusky, who didn’t attend today’s hearing, seeks exact times, dates and locations for the allegations. Prosecutors, who have shared information on the general allegations of each alleged victim, argued against giving such details citing trauma to the victims. Prosecutors have also argued against revealing some pretrial evidence citing the confidentiality of information gathered during grand jury proceedings, and an ongoing investigation.

The request by Sandusky lawyer Joseph Amendola for precise times and dates is “unprecedented,” Senior Deputy Attorney General Joseph McGettigan told state court Judge John M. Cleland during a hearing today in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania.

“These victims were not enthusiastic about coming forward,” McGettigan said during the hearing. “The victims at the time were incapable of providing specific dates.”

Sandusky, 68, a former defensive coordinator for Penn State, is charged with more than 50 counts stemming from the alleged abuse of boys over a 15-year period. Prosecutors say the alleged incidents took place on Penn State’s campus, at Sandusky’s home and at various away games attended by Penn State’s football team.

‘More Specific Information’

Cleland reserved ruling on Sandusky’s request. The purpose of Amendola’s demand for what is known as a “bill of particulars” is to narrow down what prosecutors intend to prove at a trial and what the defendant must defend against, Cleland said.

“Saying they’re children and they can’t remember isn’t a satisfying explanation for not providing more specific information under the law,” Cleland said.

The case against Sandusky led to last year’s firings of university President Graham Spanier and coach Joe Paterno, who headed the school’s football program for 46 years. Paterno died in January. Two school officials were also charged in the case with lying to a grand jury about a 2002 sex-abuse allegation against Sandusky.

Paterno was fired for a failure of leadership, Penn State said in a statement today. The coach performed his “minimum legal duty” to report a graduate assistant’s eyewitness account of the 2002 incident to his immediate superior Athletic Director Timothy Curley. However, he failed to do more to follow up, the university said.

Fired by Phone

The university fired Paterno on Nov. 9 and delivered the message by phone because his home was surrounded by media making it impossible for board representatives to meet with him privately there, the school said in today’s statement. The board decided unanimously to remove him as coach while allowing his employment contract to continue including all financial benefits and his continued status as a tenured faculty member, according to the statement.

The case is Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Sandusky, CP-14-2422-2011, Court of Common Pleas of Centre County, Pennsylvania (Bellefonte).

To contact the reporters on this story: Sophia Pearson in Philadelphia at spearson3@bloomberg.net; Drew Gingrich in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, at dag5225@psu.edu.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net


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