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Attorney general requests out-of-county jury for Sandusky trial
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pretrial publicity and Penn State’s prominent role in its local community mean Jerry Sandusky’s criminal trial should be heard by jurors brought in from another Pennsylvania county, prosecutors argued in a motion filed Tuesday. Sandusky’s lawyer said he would fight the proposal.
The attorney general’s office also said it would give the university’s former assistant football coach the names of the 10 young men he is charged with having sexually abused.
Prosecutors said media coverage of the 68-year-old Sandusky’s arrest on charges he sexually abused boys over a 15-year period has been “spectacular in its breadth and intensity.”
“The unblinking eye of the press has been focused on a case which is without analogue or peer in the history of this commonwealth,” wrote Senior Deputy Attorney General Joseph McGettigan. “Perhaps an early 20th century Pittsburgh trial implicating Frick or Carnegie might have presented parallels; but truly, this case is necessarily unique.”
“Jerry’s case has drawn national attention as a result of which we feel there’s no better place than Centre County from which to select fair-minded individuals to sit as jurors,” he said in a statement emailed to reporters.
Earlier Tuesday, Amendola said he had not seen the prosecutors’ filing that said they would be naming the young men referred to in court records as Victim Nos. 1-10. Sandusky remains free on bail while he awaits trial, and he has denied the allegations against him.
McGettigan’s jury motion, filed in Centre County court, said it would not be fair or practical to ask people who live near Penn State’s main campus to “insulate themselves” from the school where Sandusky coached for many decades.
“Prospective jurors would face a Gordian knot of conscious and even subconscious conflicts and difficulties,” he wrote.
In the other court filing, made late Monday, prosecutors said the alleged victims’ names will be delivered to Amendola by the close of business Friday, a process that would apparently avoid disclosure through public court records.
“The only statement I have is, he knows who they are,” said Jeffrey Fritz, a lawyer for the young man called Victim 4 in the first grand jury report. “But putting that aside, my understanding of criminal procedure is, he’s entitled to that.”
“I would think that most media personnel would keep the information private even if it were made public by Amendola, but there are always a few bad eggs in every barrel, so who knows,” McLaughlin said.
The scandal resulted in the ousting of school President Graham Spanier and longtime coach Joe Paterno, who died Jan. 22, and has brought shame to one of college football’s legendary programs.
Athletic Director Tim Curley has been placed on administrative leave, and Vice President Gary Schultz, who was in charge of the university’s police department, has stepped down.
Schultz and Curley are charged with lying to the grand jury and failing to report the alleged abuse to proper authorities. Like Sandusky, they have maintained their innocence.
Amendola has requested a “bill of particulars” document from prosecutors that would include names of purported victims along with the times, locations and other information to back up the 52 criminal counts against him. But the attorney general’s office said in a separate document filed in Centre County court that the grand jury reports, charging documents and discovery materials lay out the facts sufficiently.
Sandusky “has at his disposal ample information to be apprised of the charges, avoid surprise, and intelligently raise any double jeopardy or statute of limitations challenges,” prosecutors wrote, asking the judge to deny the request.
Judge John M. Cleland has scheduled a Feb. 10 hearing to resolve any remaining disputes concerning the defense request, and to consider Sandusky’s attempt to modify bail conditions so he may have contact with his grandchildren.
Sandusky, currently under house arrest in State College, wants permission for his 11 grandchildren to visit his home, accompanied by a parent, as well as to be allowed to communicate with them by phone or computer.
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