BELLEFONTE, Pa. — Jerry Sandusky was either a “predatory pedophile” who lured young boys to Penn State with gifts and access to big-time football, or a victim of now-grown men who lied to get a payout, attorneys argued Thursday as the former coach’s child sex abuse case went to a jury.
As jurors deliberated into the evening, one of Sandusky’s adopted sons came forward for the first time to say that his father had abused him. Matt Sandusky, 33, was prepared to testify for prosecutors at the trial, his attorneys said in a statement. The statement didn’t specify what the alleged abuse was.
The elder Sandusky, who faces life in prison if convicted of 48 counts of abuse of 10 boys over 15 years, was smiling and chuckling to himself as prosecutors wrapped up closing arguments. His wife, Dottie, leaned forward in her seat with a concerned look, resting her chin in her hands.
The former assistant football coach was arrested last November in a scandal that led to the firing of beloved head coach Joe Paterno, who died of cancer in January, and the departure of the university’s president.
Prosecutors said Sandusky was “a serial, predatory pedophile” who used gifts and the pageantry of Penn State’s vaunted football program to attract and abuse vulnerable boys who came from troubled homes.
“What you should do is come out and say to the defendant that he molested and abused and give them back their souls,” Senior Deputy Attorney General Joseph McGettigan III told jurors. “I give them to you. Acknowledge and give them justice.”
“He molested and abused and hurt these children horribly,” McGettigan said. “He knows he did it, and you know he did it. Find him guilty of everything.”
Defense attorney Joseph Amendola argued that the 68-year-old Sandusky was targeted by investigators who coached accusers into making false claims about a generous man whose charity gave them much-needed love.
“They went after him, and I submit to you they were going to get him hell or high water, even if they had to coach witnesses,” Amendola said in a sometimes angry closing argument.
After deliberating for more than seven hours, the jury asked the judge if they could rehear testimony from two witnesses: Mike McQueary, a onetime graduate assistant who reported seeing Sandusky assault a boy in a campus shower, and Dr. Jonathan Dranov, who testified that McQueary gave him a different account of what he saw.
Judge John Cleland told the jurors that McQueary’s testimony was about two hours in length and Dranov’s was about 20 minutes long.
“It would be a long night” if they tried to review the McQueary testimony, he said.
“My suggestion to you is we address that question first thing in the morning — if that’s OK with you,” Cleland said. “You’ve been at it a little while now. I’ll leave it to your discretion.”