New judge assigned in Penn State sex abuse case
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) – A new judge was assigned Wednesday to handle the child sex abuse charges against former Penn State football assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, whose televised defense earlier this week drew a rebuke from a lawyer for one of his accusers.
The change removed a State College judge with ties to a charity founded by Sandusky for at-risk children, The Second Mile.
Harrisburg attorney Ben Andreozzi said he represents a client who will testify against Sandusky, who is accused of abusing eight boys, some on campus, over 15 years.
“I am appalled by the fact that Mr. Sandusky has elected to re-victimize these young men at a time when they should be healing,” Andreozzi said in a statement released by his office. “He fully intends to testify that he was severely sexually assaulted by Mr. Sandusky.”
Sandusky’s lawyer, Joe Amendola, appeared with him on NBC’s “Rock Center” on Monday night and cast doubt on the evidence in the case.
“We anticipate we’re going to have at least several of those kids come forward and say, ‘This never happened. This is me. This is the allegation. It never occurred,”‘ Amendola said.
Andreozzi said he has his “finger on the pulse” of the case and knows of no accusers changing their stories or refusing to testify.
“To the contrary, others are actually coming forward, and I will have more information for you later this week,” Andreozzi said.
Sandusky, 67, appeared on the show by phone and said he had showered with boys but never molested them.
Also Wednesday, a central Pennsylvania police chief said his department did not receive reports from a then-Penn State graduate assistant who said he saw Sandusky raping a boy on campus in a football locker room shower in 2002.
The assistant, Mike McQueary, wrote in an email to a friend that was made available to The Associated Press that he had discussions with police about what he saw. In the email, McQueary did not specify which police department he spoke to.
State College borough police chief Tom King said McQueary didn’t make a report to his department.
The university has its own police force. Penn State administrators said they were looking into whether McQueary contacted campus police.
Penn State campus police referred all questions on the Sandusky matter to the university’s public information office. When asked about McQueary’s assertion in the email about “discussions” with police, university spokeswoman Annemarie Mountz said the school and police “were looking into it.”
The football building is on university property, so campus police would be the most likely to respond for a police call. But it was unclear if university, State College or state police would have been contacted if any such discussion did take place.
Mountz also noted the 23-page grand jury report was the state attorney general’s summary of testimony, so it’s unclear what McQueary’s full testimony was.
Sandusky is due in court on Dec. 7, and the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts announced Wednesday that it was bringing in a Westmoreland County senior district judge to preside over his preliminary hearing. Robert E. Scott is taking over the hearing from Centre County District Judge Leslie Dutchcot.
Dutchcot has donated money to The Second Mile, where authorities say Sandusky met his victims.
The office said Scott has no known ties to Penn State or The Second Mile.
Amendola defended the decision to have his client go on television, telling the Centre Daily Times on Wednesday the move was designed to demonstrate he had a defense.
“The more people who hear him explain that he didn’t commit the acts of which he’s been charged, the better off he’s going to be down the road,” Amendola told the newspaper.
It remains unclear how many accusers have surfaced more than a week after state police and the attorney general’s office said at a news conference they were seeking additional potential victims and witnesses.
State police spokeswoman Maria Finn said investigators have told her that published accounts reporting how many people have come forward are inaccurate and they are not disclosing their internal figures.
Some plaintiffs’ lawyers are starting to advertise on their websites for potential Sandusky victims, vowing to get justice. Jeff Anderson, a St. Paul, Minn., attorney, has long represented clergy abuse victims and told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he has been retained by several people he described as Sandusky victims.
“There’s a great deal of fury and confusion,” particularly because Sandusky is free on bail, Anderson said. “Getting (them) help and cooperating with law enforcement is our first priority.”
The “time for reckoning,” in the form of civil lawsuits, will come later, Anderson said.
Anderson declined to say whether his clients are among the eight boys who were labeled as victims in the grand jury report.
Berks County lawyer Jay Abramowitch, who has represented about 150 child sex victims, many of them in clergy abuse cases, said he is following the Penn State case closely. He declined to say if he was representing anyone accusing Sandusky of abuse.
“The real significance of what happened in the Sandusky situation is that people are beginning to understand the cover-up that goes on in any structural organization that employs a pedophile,” he said. “And that’s why these pedophiles are running wild.”
“What’s the answer? One of the answers is to allow these victims the right to go to court and file suit against not only the pedophile but the group that employed them … and didn’t do anything,” Abramowitch said.
Abramowitch long fought to get around the legal time limit for victims to sue the Roman Catholic Church for decades-old abuse. In 2005, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejected his argument that the suits should go through on grounds the church had concealed the abuse.
In State College, Penn State announced a physician and member of its board of trustees who played football and wrestled for the school would serve as acting athletic director. The school named Dr. David M. Joyner, an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in sports medicine and a business consultant, as the interim replacement for Tim Curley.
Curley is on leave as athletic director as he defends himself against criminal charges that he failed to properly alert authorities when told of an allegation of a sexual assault by Sandusky against a child and that he lied to a grand jury. He maintains his innocence.
Joyner’s position on the board, where he has been a trustee since 2000, is being suspended as he takes on the new duties.
Gov. Tom Corbett again defended the pace of the investigation, which he helped launch and oversaw while serving as attorney general until January.
“Could anybody guarantee he wasn’t out there touching children? There are no such guarantees, unless he was sitting in jail,” Corbett, a Republican, said in Philadelphia. “But we did what we thought was in the best interests of the investigation in getting a good case put together.”
Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., introduced a bill that would require all adults to report child abuse and neglect to police or local child protective agencies.
And new details were emerging about how the case ended up in the hands of the state attorney general’s office.
Former Centre County District Attorney Michael Madeira said that his wife’s brother was Sandusky’s adopted son.
“I reviewed it, and I made the decision it needed to be investigated further,” Madeira said. “But the apparent conflict of interest created an impediment for me to make those kinds of decisions.”
The scandal’s fallout extended to former Pittsburgh Steelers great Franco Harris, whose relationship with a southwestern Pennsylvania racetrack and casino was put on hiatus after he chastised Penn State’s trustees for showing “no courage” for firing coach Joe Paterno, who has not been charged with a crime and is not considered a target of prosecutors.
Harris, who played for Paterno from 1968 to 1971, had recently signed as a spokesman for The Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Washington, Pa.
Scolforo reported from Harrisburg. Dale and AP writer Kathy Matheson reported from Philadelphia.