Sandusky lawyer says two new abuse claims unfounded
STATE COLLEGE, Pa (AP) – A former Penn State assistant football coach accused of molesting boys for more than 15 years faces two new claims of child sexual abuse, but both are unfounded, his lawyer told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
Attorney Joseph Amendola said one claim against Jerry Sandusky stemmed from a Sandusky family dispute, and he characterized the other as an example of people trying to mimic other allegations.
“That doesn’t surprise me because we believe there would be a number of copycat allegations, people who really maybe not even had direct contact with Jerry but … try to jump on the bandwagon,” Amendola said.
He said the accusations, should they result in charges, would be vigorously contested.
“We’ll defend those if and when they become charges,” Amendola told the AP in a phone interview Wednesday. “We’ll defend those just like we’re defending the other charges.”
Sandusky, 67, is charged with sexually abusing eight boys, some on campus. He has said he showered with some boys but never sexually abused them.
The Patriot-News newspaper of Harrisburg has reported that the pair of new claims were brought within the last two months.
Lawyers for two other people arrested earlier this month as a result of a grand jury investigation into allegations against Sandusky are asking prosecutors to turn over material to help them prepare for a preliminary hearing next month.
Attorneys for Penn State athletic director Tim Curley and former university vice president Gary Schultz wrote to state prosecutors Tuesday asking for grand jury testimony and other information related to their cases. They both faces charges of perjury and failure to properly report suspected child abuse; they maintain their innocence.
The request appears to be a long shot, since such disclosures aren’t required so early in a case’s trajectory. But the letter also hints at a likely defense strategy: questioning the testimony of a graduate assistant who said he reported seeing Sandusky rape a child in 2002.
Among other things, they asked for corroboration of statements by assistant coach Mike McQueary that he told Schultz and Curley he witnessed Sandusky sodomizing a boy in the football team showers nine years ago. They said such corroboration is needed to meet the relatively low legal standard required for the perjury charge to advance from the preliminary hearing to county court for a full trial.
“The presentment states no such corroboration,” wrote Caroline Roberto, who represents Curley, and Thomas J. Farrell, Schultz’s lawyer. “Please provide any in advance of the hearing or specify there is none, thereby saving the court and us considerable time and inconvenience.”
Roberto and Farrell acknowledged that Pennsylvania’s criminal procedure rules don’t require the disclosure they are seeking but told state prosecutor Jonelle Eshbach she had the discretion to provide it. A spokesman for the attorney general’s office declined to comment on the letter Wednesday.
The lawyers have previously said their clients are innocent of the charges and vowed a vigorous defense.
The letter suggests a key element of that defense is likely to be a challenge to the testimony of McQueary, who a grand jury report said told the administrators during a meeting “that he had witnessed what he believed to be Sandusky having … sex with a boy.”
Schultz and Curley said that McQueary was not that specific when he told them what he saw, according to the grand jury. The panel concluded that portions of the testimony by Schultz and Curley were not credible but that McQueary’s testimony was “extremely credible.”
Roberto and Farrell said in the three-page letter that they want an email from McQueary to Penn State players saying he stopped the alleged 2002 sexual attack on a child by Sandusky and a statement that he notified police.
McQueary, now on administrative leave from his coaching job, wrote in an email to friends that he had “discussions with police and with the official at the university in charge of police” about what he saw.
He did not specify whether he spoke to campus or State College police. State College borough police Chief Tom King has said McQueary did not report to his department, and campus police have said they were unable to find a record of a report filed in 2002 by McQueary.
Amendola said he plans to attack each allegation, with the 2002 report “the biggest one we’ve decided to attack first.” A man who Amendola said told him that he might to be the alleged victim in 2002 went in to talk to the lawyer after the grand jury report was released Nov. 5.
“He says Jerry didn’t do anything sexually to him, not only that night but any other night, so we’re attacking that one first,” Amendola said.
The lawyers for Curley and Schultz asked for any criminal record and deals that prosecutors may have made regarding McQueary and information about any contacts between McQueary and Sandusky after the alleged attack.
“Apparently, Mr. McQueary golfed and socialized with Mr. Sandusky after March 1, 2002, conduct that is inconsistent with Mr. McQueary’s testimony: Most people do not socialize with individuals they believe to be child-rapists,” the lawyers wrote.
They said the state should provide any interviews with the person called “victim 2” in the grand jury report issued Nov. 5, the day charges were filed against Schultz, Curley and Sandusky.
They also sought copies of grand jury testimony by their clients, McQueary and football coach Joe Paterno, who was fired in the wake of the scandal. And they said state investigators may have leaked grand jury details, asking the attorney general’s office to “halt and investigate these abuses” and report them to the proper disciplinary authorities.
Copied in on the letter was William Wenner, the district judge in the Harrisburg suburbs who is set to preside over next month’s hearing.
Paterno, who has been diagnosed with a treatable form of lung cancer, has not been charged and is not a target of the investigation.
A source close to the family confirmed to the AP on Wednesday night that Paterno’s wife, Sue, was asked to leave a campus pool, leaving the avid swimmer saddened. School spokesman Bill Mahon said he had not heard of such a directive.
Paterno was focused on beating his illness and seeing the “full truth emerge,” the source said. The family was getting calls, letters and visits from ex-players and friends, even though the Nittany Lions this week said their former coach didn’t want sympathy.
Amendola said he didn’t believe “for a second” that Curley, Schultz and Paterno were told that McQueary saw Sandusky engaging in explicit sex and simply told him “Don’t go in the showers with kids anymore.”
“Who in their right mind would believe that those three very responsible people would respond that way to that sort of information?” Amendola said. “It makes no sense.”
Sandusky’s modest home at the end of a dead-end street in State College has been staked out by camera crews since the scandal began. A window has twice been broken at the house, and police patrol the area regularly.
Amendola said it’s a “very difficult time” for Sandusky and his family.
“It’s just heartbreaking from their perspective, to see these allegations basically result in the crumbling of his life’s work,” he said.
Sandusky is essentially homebound, and the family fears facing people who might “take some sort of assaultive-like actions,” Amendola said. Asked if Sandusky feared for his safety, the lawyer said, “Well, he does, yes, of course.”
The scandal also resulted in the departure under pressure of President Graham Spanier and has brought shame to one of college football’s legendary programs. Curley has been placed on administrative leave, and Schultz, who was in charge of the university’s police department, has stepped down.
Scolforo reported from Harrisburg, Pa.