BELLEFONTE, Pa. — Former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky’s wife testified Tuesday that she remembers most of the men who told a jury that her husband sexually abused them, but she insisted he never had inappropriate contact with them as boys.
She also said that the basement where the boys would stay wasn’t soundproof, a statement that contradicted one man’s testimony that he screamed during an assault but couldn’t be heard.
Defense lawyers called Mr. Sandusky’s wife to the witness stand Tuesday after they went after two investigators, suggesting that police shared details among accusers and planted the seeds of the alleged victims’ evolving accounts of abuse.
The jury also heard from a psychologist who testified that Mr. Sandusky has a personality disorder that might explain the “creepy” letters he sent to one of his accusers. The defense also offered more testimony touting Mr. Sandusky’s reputation as a family man and community stalwart.
In a case that has rocked the university community and college sports in general, Mr. Sandusky. longtime top aide to late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, is charged with 51 criminal counts related to 10 suspected victims over a 15-year span. He’s accused of engaging in illegal sexual contact ranging from fondling to forced oral and anal sex.
Dottie Sandusky has stood by her husband, posting his bail, accompanying him to court proceedings and issuing a statement in December that proclaimed his innocence and said that accusers were making up their stories.
One witness testified last week that he was attacked by Mr. Sandusky in the basement of the ex-coach’s home and cried out for help when Dottie Sandusky was upstairs. She, however, said the basement was not soundproof and she would have been able to hear shouting if she was upstairs.
The psychologist, Elliot Atkins, told jurors that he diagnosed Mr. Sandusky with “histrionic personality disorder” after talking with the ex-coach for six hours.
People with the disorder often interact with others in inappropriately seductive ways and don’t feel comfortable unless they’re the center of attention, he explained.
“Often these are people who did not have as much success in relationships emotional or romantic [and] relationships in life,” the psychologist said, responding to questions from Sandusky lawyer Joe Amendola.
Prosecutors rested their case Monday after presenting 21 witnesses, including eight who said they had been assaulted by Mr. Sandusky. The identities of two other alleged victims are unknown to investigators.
Mr. Sandusky’s arrest led the university trustees to fire Paterno as coach in November, saying his response to the 2001 report from another assistant coach raising questions about Mr. Sandusky’s conduct showed a lack of leadership. Paterno died of cancer in January.
Spouses can assert spousal immunity to avoid testifying about anything said in confidence to them by their spouse. But Mrs. Sandusky has presumably agreed to waive that privilege since she took the stand, lawyer Brian McMonagle said.
“They’re doing that to show he’s got a wife, he’s normal, kids came over and slept there and there’s never a problem,” Mr. McMonagle said. “They want to paint him as normal as they can. I’m sure she’s probably going to be an effective witness in that regard.”