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Sandusky appears in court over Penn State sex abuse charge

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Former Penn State football Defensive Coordinator Sandusky is pictured in police photograph
Former Penn State football Defensive Coordinator Sandusky is pictured in police photograph

By Mark Shade

BELLEFONTE, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - Former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky appeared on Thursday in a Pennsylvania court where his attorneys and prosecutors discussed defense efforts to have the high-profile child sex abuse case dismissed.

Sandusky, 68, a former Penn State defensive coordinator, faces 52 counts of child molestation over accusations he abused 10 boys over a 15-year period. He has denied the charges and is under house arrest.

The scandal over Sandusky focused national attention on child sex abuse and led to the firing of the university's legendary head coach Joe Paterno and President Graham Spanier. Paterno died in January.

Sandusky, dressed in tan pants and a blue blazer, sat quietly as defense attorney Joe Amendola said he may be resubmitting a motion to have the charges dismissed. The hearing was held at the Center County Court of Common pleas.

Sandusky was accompanied by his wife, Dottie.

Prosecutor Joseph McGettigan said a grand jury investigation was ongoing and that more evidence could be introduced. The prosecution has already given the defense voluminous quantities of evidence, he said.

Judge John Cleland did not make any rulings and said he was unlikely to do so until the middle of next week at the earliest.

Amendola has been trying to get the case dropped, questioning the validity of charges related to three boys.

"We're still challenging all of the charges. We're still challenging all of the issues," Amendola said outside of court.

"As long as we can continue to argue those issues before trial, we're in the ball game," he said. The trial is scheduled to begin on June 5, but the defense wants it to be delayed.

The prosecutor countered, also outside of court, that Amendola was trying to argue his case before the public.

REQUESTS FOR INFORMATION

Before he adjourned the brief hearing, the judge said it was "premature to decide what can and cannot be prosecuted ... because of (the prosecution's) ongoing investigation."

"The whole process is somewhat complicated and in limbo. It's still in flux," he said.

Along with the state's probe, federal authorities have joined the investigation and requested information involving Sandusky and other top Penn State officials.

Amendola also has been seeking more information from prosecutors such as exact dates of the purported molestations, details that he says are crucial to building a defense.

However, the judge has so far sided with prosecutors, who say they have extracted as much information as possible from the accusers, described by McGettigan as "very troubled children" who are now adults.

Outside court on Thursday, the prosecutor said Sandusky blew his chance at facing his accusers when he waived his rights to a preliminary hearing in December.

"The defendant did not wish to hear the litany of perversions that he was accused of," McGettigan said.

Several of the accusers said in court documents the abuse occurred over several years, including one who said it began when he was 8 and lasted six years.

Sandusky's attorney has said he waived the preliminary hearing to stop prosecutors from asking for a bail increase that could send his client back to jail. Sandusky has posted $250,000 bail and is monitored at home by an electronic ankle bracelet.

By waiving the right to the hearing, the defense opted instead to take the case directly to the trial stage.

(Editing By Ellen Wulfhorst and Philip Barbara)

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