BELLEFONTE, Pa. — Jerry Sandusky’s lawyers finished putting on their case Wednesday without calling the former Penn State assistant football coach to the stand to rebut child sex abuse charges that could put him in prison for the rest of his life.
The sudden end to the defense’s presentation came on the seventh day of the trial, during which the jury heard from eight men - now 18 to 28 - who said the former coach sexually assaulted them after they met him through the charity he founded.
Mr. Sandusky is charged with 51 criminal counts related to purported abuse of 10 boys over 15 years. He has denied the accusations but acknowledged in interviews following his arrest that he had showered with boys.
The accusers described for jurors a range of sexual abuse at his hands, from grooming and fondling to oral sex and forced anal sex that one young man said left him injured. The identities of two other purported victims are unknown to investigators.
The defense has suggested the accusers have financial motivations for their claims and were improperly influenced by investigators. They also put on character witnesses who spoke of Mr. Sandusky’s sound reputation. Dottie Sandusky took the stand Tuesday and said she never saw her husband act inappropriately with the accusers.
The defense rested after an approximately 40-minute closed-door meeting involving attorneys, Mr. Sandusky and the judge overseeing the case. The next steps in the trial are jury instructions and then closing arguments, set for Thursday morning.
Earlier Wednesday, the defense sought to undercut testimony from a former graduate assistant who told jurors he saw Mr. Sandusky sexually abusing a boy inside a football facility shower more than a decade ago.
Jonathan Dranov, a family friend of Mike McQueary, said he spoke to the assistant the night Mr. McQueary claimed to have seen Mr. Sandusky engaging in a sex act with a boy of about 10.
Mr. Dranov testified that Mr. McQueary described hearing “sexual sounds” and seeing a boy in the shower and an arm reach around him and pull him out of view. Mr. McQueary said he made eye contact with the boy and Mr. Sandusky later emerged from the showers, Mr. Dranov testified.
That account differs from what Mr. McQueary told a grand jury that investigated Mr. Sandusky and what he told jurors last week.
Mr. McQueary testified he saw Mr. Sandusky pressing a boy up against the wall inside the shower, and that he had no doubt he was witnessing anal sex. Mr. McQueary’s report to his superiors - and Penn State officials’ failure to go to outside law enforcement - is what ultimately led to the firing of longtime coach Joe Paterno.
Former Second Mile participant David Hilton said he felt like investigators were trying to coach him into accusing Mr. Sandusky. “When it got to the second or third time I felt like they wanted me to say something that isn’t true,” he said.
The defense has sought to portray investigators as planting the seeds for accusations against Mr. Sandusky by sharing details of other alleged victims’ claims.