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HARRISBURG, Pa. — The judge in Jerry Sandusky’s child-sex-abuse trial ruled Monday that the former Penn State assistant coach's jury will be composed of residents of State College and the surrounding area and that he has permission to visit with most of his grandchildren.
Judge John Cleland ordered the state attorney general's office to disclose the ages of the children at the time prosecutors say the crimes occurred. The judge also ordered prosecutors to turn over the times, dates and locations of such encounters.
The judge said jury selection will be a challenge, given the pretrial publicity and the special role Penn State plays in the Centre County community.
“If, after a reasonable attempt it is apparent that a jury cannot be selected within a reasonable time, then I will reconsider this ruling,” Judge Cleland wrote.
The judge encouraged state prosecutors to work with the judge who supervised a grand jury that investigated Mr. Sandusky to figure out how to release grand jury transcripts to Mr. Sandusky’s lawyers “on a schedule which balances the appropriate interests of maintaining the secrecy of the grand jury while still assuring the trial can proceed without unnecessary disruption.”
Mr. Sandusky faces 52 criminal counts for what prosecutors claim was sexual abuse of 10 boys over a 15-year period. He has denied the allegations.
Prosecutors had asked to have Mr. Sandusky, who is on home confinement as he awaits trial, ordered to remain indoors after they fielded concerns by neighbors about the safety of children, particularly at an elementary school behind Mr. Sandusky’s house. Judge Cleland denied that motion.
“No evidence was presented that at any time the defendant made any effort to contact any of the children by signaling or calling to them, or that he made any gestures directed toward them, or that he acted in any inappropriate way whatsoever,” Judge Cleland wrote.
The 68-year-old Mr. Sandusky was granted the right to see adult visitors as well as his grandchildren — under their parents’ supervision — except for three grandchildren who are the subject of custody litigation. Judge Cleland deferred visits with those children to the judge overseeing the custody case.
Mr. Sandusky was allowed to make up a list of up to 12 adults, in addition to members of his immediate family, he would like to be able to see. The county officials overseeing his home confinement then will approve or deny his requests. He will be limited to a total of two hours of visits three times a week.
Judge Cleland, who has set a tentative trial date for mid-May, addressed disputes between the sides over material that should be turned over to the defense by directing prosecutors to put their objections in writing by Feb. 20, and Mr. Sandusky’s lawyers will be allowed to reply by Feb. 27.
Mr. Sandusky lost a request to force prosecutors to disclose the names, addresses and dates of birth of witnesses.
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