Morning Update: Jerry Sandusky Trial Opening Arguments
It has begun.
At 9:10 a.m. this morning in the Centre County Courthouse, nestled in sleepy Victorian Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, one of the most anticipated trials in Pennsylvania history got underway as Jerry Sandusky faces 52 counts of sexual abuse stemming from the allegations of 10 different accusers.
In front of media, the public, family, and friends – including former Penn State offensive line coach Dick Anderson who coached with Jerry Sandusky for 30 years and Sandusky’s adopted son Matt Sandusky – Judge John Cleland presented opening remarks to the jurors. “I suppose the first question that comes to your mind is ‘How did I end up on this jury,’” Cleland said. “It’s a good question, but after a few minutes of thought it’s a pretty obvious answer…you are, in short, a cross-section of the citizens of Centre County. You are a jury of the defendant’s peers.”
Cleland continued by reminding the jury that they are forbidden to speak about the case to anyone or read any news reports. “The problem with reading stories in a newspaper or watching a TV report is not that they’re incorrect,” Cleland said. “But they’re obviously incomplete. You have the best seat in the house – you will hear and see every witness and every piece of evidence.”
Cleland’s remarks to the jury lasted nearly 30 minutes, as Sandusky’s attorney Joe Amendola, who typically appears relaxed, nervously rocked back and forth in the old wooden chair common to the antiquate courtroom.
Joe McGettigan, the main prosecutor, started off with his opening statement by introducing himself to the jury, much of which was inaudible because of McGettigan’s hushed voice. He continued by showing a picture slideshow with a headshot of of each of the known alleged victims on a large screen, identifying each one by their first name to the jury. Sandusky glanced at each picture momentarily as they crossed the screen, often looking away quickly as McGettigan described the alleged graphic acts committed against each of them.
McGettigan continued by using the big screen to flash the equation “Humiliation Shame Fear = Silence” to describe how the victims were feeling, and to explain why it took so long for them all to come forward. McGettigan again named off all of the victims, and assured the jury that all of them would be testifying. He also gave an indication that Victim 4 – the boy who was allegedly subjected to abuse at the Alamo Bowl and was reported to have received love letters from Sandusky – would be the first witness to take the stand. The prosecution also stated that Dottie Sandusky once witnessed an assault in a hotel room during a bowl trip.
McGettigan’s remarks took approximately 40 minutes, before a 20 minute recess was ordered.