Psychologist: Sandusky has personality disorder

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BELLEFONTE, Pa. (AP) — Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky has a personality disorder that might explain the “creepy” letters he sent to one of his accusers, a psychologist said Tuesday.

Elliot Atkins, the psychologist, told jurors that he diagnosed Sandusky with histrionic personality disorder after talking with the defendant for six hours.

People with the disorder often interact with people in inappropriately seductive ways and don’t feel comfortable unless they’re the center of attention, Atkins explained.

“Often these are people who did not have as much success in relationships — emotional or romantic — (and) relationships in life,” he said, responding to questions from Sandusky lawyer Joe Amendola.

According to the National Institutes of Health, histrionic personality disorder occurs more often in women than in men.

Sandusky’s attorney is hoping to convince jurors that the disorder could explain his client’s letters to the accuser known as Victim 4 and other interaction that prosecutors allege show his grooming of victims.

Sandusky is charged with 51 criminal counts related to 10 alleged victims over a 15-year span. He’s accused of engaging in illegal sexual contact ranging from fondling to forced oral and anal sex.

Atkins‘ remarks came after earlier testimony that saw Amendola suggest that investigators shared details among accusers, planting the seeds of the alleged victims’ evolving accounts of abuse.

The defense also called more witnesses who lauded the former Penn State assistant football coach’s reputation as an upstanding citizen.

But Amendola had sharp questions for two state police investigators who interviewed the alleged victims.

Amendola questioned the investigators about what details they shared during those interviews, in particular with the accuser known in court papers as Victim 4.

Amendola asked retired Cpl. Joseph Leiter if investigators told interviewees about others who had stepped forward.

“In some of our interviews … we did tell them,” he said.

Asked why, Leiter said it was to let possible victims know they were not alone.

“Each of these accusers was very, very seriously injured, and very concerned, and we had told them — especially prior to going to the grand jury — that they wouldn’t be alone, that there were others,” Leiter said.

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