Former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky dismissed allegations today that he has been leering at school children from his back deck and argued that he should be allowed to visit at least with his grandchildren while under house arrest for child molestation charges.
Sandusky said after a Pennsylvania court hearing today that he should be able to see his grandsons, who have begged for the chance to talk to "Pop" on the phone since he was arrested last year and charged with 50 counts of child sex abuse.
Sandusky's attorney, Joe Amendola, asked a Pennsylvania court today to loosen Sandusky's bail terms to allow visitation with his grandchildren. Sandusky, following the hearing, said his grandkids had been begging his wife, Dottie, to be allowed to visit with him.
"When my wife is visiting with our grandchildren or they call and ask to talk to me on my birthday, they ask why they can't talk to me or see me, and I'm sensitive to that. My grandchildren, one of them was saying the only thing he wanted for his birthday is to see Pop. I'm sensitive to that. That's why I came today," Sandusky said.
He also fought off charges by the prosecution that he was endangering children by sitting on his back porch, which is 100 yards from an elementary school. A neighbor and parents from the school had complained that Sandusky was too close to the children, but Sandusky and his attorney dismissed the claim.
"Now all of a sudden because of allegations and perceptions that have been created of me, now I can't take our dog on my deck and throw out biscuits to him," Sandusky said at a press conference after the hearing. "Now all of a sudden these people turn on me when they've been in my home with their kids, when they've been in that home, on that deck, their kids in my yard playing, sled riding when they've asked to sled ride in my yard. That's difficult for me to understand."
Judge John Cleland said that he would rule on the requests from both the defense and the prosecution quickly, perhaps by next week
Chief among the other issues Cleland will decide is whether Sandusky's trial, set for May 14, should be moved to a different venue. The prosecution has argued that because of Sandusky's connections to Penn State and the charity The Second Mile, potential jurors in Centre County with connections to those two organizations would be biased. A more objective jury could be found elsewhere, they said.
Amendola, Sandusky's attorney, said that potential jurors throughout Pennsylvania would already have knowledge of the case and could also have connections to Penn State or the Second Mile, and so there was no convincing reason to move the trial.
The defense also asked the judge to order an early release of evidence that has been collected by the state, including the transcripts of witness testimony to the grand jury that resulted in Sandusky's arrest.
Following the hearing, Karl Rominger, an attorney for Sandusky, said that he believed the grand jury presentment that led to Sandusky's arrest was an exercise in "creative writing," suggesting it was embellished from the actual testimony of key witness Mike McQueary.
The presentment claims that McQueary said he saw Sandusky raping a young boy in a shower on the Penn State campus in 2002, but McQueary has since testified in court that only saw Sandusky standing naked in a shower with a young boy in what McQueary perceived to be a sexual position.
The difference in the testimony and the grand jury presentment could affect the prosecution's case, as McQueary is the only witness to an alleged act of sexual abuse. Other trial witnesses will include alleged victims.