Jerry Sandusky Lawyers Lean Toward Putting Him on Stand

Former Penn State coach could be final witness in his sex abuse trial.

June 19, 2012, 8:04 AM

BELLEFONTE, Pa. June 19, 2012— -- Jerry Sandusky's lawyers are leaning toward putting him on the stand in his own defense tomorrow, though the final decision has not yet been made, sources tell ABC News.

Sandusky would be called as the final witness for the defense, which is expected to rest its case on Wednesday. He is expected to deny that he ever had any sexual intent in his "horseplay" with the eight men who say they were sexually abused by him.

Prosecutor Joseph McGettigan, who has aggressively cross-examined defense witnesses this week, will have the opportunity to question Sandusky if they decide to put him on the stand.

Sandusky is charged with 51 counts of child sex abuse and could face life in prison if convicted.

His testimony could be a final chance for the defense, led by attorney Joseph Amendola, to place a reasonable doubt in the minds of the jurors. The case is expected to go to the jury of seven women and five men following closing arguments on Thursday.

Sandusky's legal team had its strongest day yet today countering the claims of the eight accusers as Sandusky's wife, Dottie, took the stand in his defense, and helped poke holes in the accounts of two lead investigators in the case against him.

A poised Dottie Sandusky testified that she never saw anything sexual occur between her husband and any of his accusers.

Mrs. Sandusky, who winked at her husband as she took the stand, said in a soft voice that they will have been married for 46 years in September.

In a patient grandmotherly style, she described most of her husband's accusers as "very nice," but remembered some as "conniving" and "very clingy."

Sandusky, 68, is charged with 51 counts of sex abuse of 10 boys.

Dottie Sandusky bluntly denied the accusation of one accuser who told the court last week that during the Alamo Bowl she walked in on her husband trying to force the boy, now known as Victim 4, to perform oral sex on him. He claimed she interrupted her husband by asking, "What's going on in there?"

Mrs. Sandusky's version was quite different.

"I came in one day. It was like a bathroom and dressing area. They were standing there. I said 'what's going on' because Jerry was very upset and we had asked (Victim 4) if he wanted to go to a luncheon which was $50, and he said he'd really like to go. And Jerry said OK, and it was the day of the luncheon and (Victim 4) wouldn't go and Jerry knew I'd be very upset about spending the money."

Dottie Sandusky told the court room that nothing seemed inappropriate about the exchange.

"They were just standing in little hallways, they were fully clothed," she said.

Dottie Sandusky also rejected repeated testimony by the alleged victims that Jerry Sandusky would molest them at night in the family basement, an area they said his wife never went.

Mrs. Sandusky told the jury today that she and her husband had always shared a bed and that her husband would usually go to bed first. She also testified that she would often go down to the basement to get food out of a freezer there.

In response to the allegation from Victim 10 that he once yelled for help while being sexually abused in the basement while Dottie Sandusky was upstairs, Amendola asked whether someone on the ground floor would be able to hear someone yelling from the basement. "Yes," she responded and added that her hearing was very good.

She also described Victim 4, who testified powerfully about the sex abuse he allegedly endured, as "demanding, and he was very conniving, and he wanted his way and didn't listen a whole lot."

Jerry Sandusky Wife Comes to His Defense

Mrs. Sandusky did remember moments when she said the boys initiated affectionate contact with her husband.

"There was one time we were watching TV, and Jerry was in a La-Z-Boy, and (Victim 1) was on one couch. I was on another. And all of a sudden at a break he jumps up and runs and jumps in the chair with Jerry," she said.

She recalled being invited along with her husband by Victim 1's grandfather or mother to watch a wrestling match, and when they arrived, Victim 1 jumped up from a wrestling mat and ran "clear across the room and jumped up and hugged Jerry," she said.

She described Victim 1 as "very clingy to Jerry."

She said the other boys that she remembered coming to house who are now accusers were very nice.

Dottie Sandusky said that kids slept over the couple's house on one or two weekends a month during football season, and were given their choice of sleeping downstairs in the basement bedroom, in a ground floor bedroom, or in the second floor bedrooms if the couple's children were not home.

Prosecutor Joseph McGettigan, taking a softer tone with Dottie Sandusky than he had with earlier witnesses, asked if she believed that the accusers and Mike McQueary had any reason that she could think of to lie about these accusations.

"Would lie?" she asked. "I don't know what it would be for."

Earlier, Sandusky's defense concentrated on undermining the credibility of his accusers, suggesting they were partly motivated by the chance for a lucrative lawsuit.

The mother of Victim 1 was called to the stand and asked by Amendola whether she had ever expressed hope that by the end of the Sandusky case she would have "a big house in the country with a white fence where the dogs could run."

She said she had never said such a thing.

Amendola then called the woman's former next door neighbor who testified that she had said those exact words.

"Yeah she had said about when this all settles out she'll have a nice big house in the country with a fence and the dogs can run free," the man said, adding that Victim 1 had similar sentiments. "One statement he made was, 'When this is over I'll have a nice new Jeep.'"

Amendola also asked the woman about hiring a civil attorney, Michael Bonni, to represent her. The woman said that she had not paid Bonni, a Philadelphia-based civil attorney, but that she had signed some sort of payment agreement and did not know what it said.

She told Amendola she hired Bonni to protect her from the media, which had learned of Victim 1's name and address and were trying to find out more information about the case through him.

Amendola's defense team built up another part of their strategy during afternoon testimony as they called psychologist Elliot Atkins, who diagnosed Sandusky with histrionic personality disorder after reviewing his case and interviewing him. Reading from psychology text book material, Atkins explained that people who have HPD act out to get attention, act seductively, crave intimacy and affection, and can make people uncomfortable by "hugging with ardor."

He was called to testify about how Sandusky's condition may have influenced the letters that were presented as "creepy love letters" written to Victim 4 during the prosecution's testimony.

"The letters made me feel more confident about my diagnosis," Atkins said. "The book that I read that Mr. Sandusky coauthored absolutely confirmed in my mind this diagnosis was one thing, but when I read letters they made it much clearer that this was the diagnosis."

Dr. John O'Brien, a psychiatrist called by the prosecution, said that though two personality tests yielded a possible diagnosis of HPD, he also showed that Sandusky answered test questions in a way that would portray him in the best possible light.

Sandusky's legal team is trying to counter the powerfully emotional case presented by the prosecution last week that featured eight alleged victims describing, often through tears, how Sandusky allegedly showered them with attention and presents before aggressively sexually assaulting them.

Earlier today, Amendola contended that state troopers "tainted" the sex abuse investigation by prodding potential victims to say that sexual acts occurred between Sandusky and them and encouraged their confessions by saying that other young men had already described the abuse in detail.

Amendola asked two Pennsylvania state troopers whether the potential victims they interviewed at the beginning of the investigation ever said that nothing happened between them and Sandusky, and whether they later changed their stories to say that sexual abuse had occurred. Both investigators agreed that the men had changed their stories during the course of several interviews to provide detailed accounts of being molested or raped.

Amendola suggested that Trooper Scott Rossman and Corporal Joseph Leiter had elicited some of those changes by encouraging the men to say they were abused.

He asked whether the investigators remembered telling Victim 4 during an early interview that "nine other kids" had come forward and some of them had told investigators that oral sex and rape had occurred, according to a transcript from the interview.

Rossman and Leiter denied that they shared with their interviewees specific information about the number of other accusers or sex acts that alleged victims had told them, but Amendola then read a transcript from an interview with the man being identified as Victim 4.

In the interview, Leiter said, "I want to let you know that you are not the only victim... I think there were nine. We interviewed about nine.... You are repeating word for word pretty much that others told us. We know there is a well-defined progression in the way he operated.. Progression goes on for an extended period of time... oral sex..."

Amendola played a tape in which Leiter and Rossman say they are going to pause the recording device to take a break. Rossman and Victim 4 leave to get sodas, and Leiter and Victim 4's attorney, Ben Andreozzi, remain in the interview room with the recording device accidentally still recording.

The two discuss other allegations from alleged victims in the case, and then Andreozzi asks Leiter to share those allegations with his client so that Victim 4 can feel more comfortable talking about what happened to him.

Amendola asked the two investigators whether they had discussed their testimony with one another in the hallway. Rossman said they had not, while Leiter said they had.

He also asked the men whether they had turned off the tape recorder during interviews with other alleged victims and whether they were also told details of what other complainants had said.

Both men said under cross-examination by the prosecutor that they had not told alleged victims what to say or to embellish their stories.

They told the prosecutor that it was difficult to get many of the alleged victims to discuss the abuse. One, Leiter said, "curled up in the fetal position at the end of his couch" during questioning.