Judge Clears Way for Trial to Begin

Judge John Cleland

Jury selection in the case against Jerry Sandusky will start June 5. The trial is now slated for June 11.

BELLEFONTE, Pa. -- The highly publicized trial of Jerry Sandusky is set to begin next week.

The former Penn State assistant football coach, who is facing multiple child sex abuse charges, lost a final bid Wednesday to have his trial delayed. Presiding Judge John Cleland struck down a defense motion seeking a continuance.


Jerry Sandusky

“While I certainly do not doubt the sincerity of defense counsel in requesting a continuance,” Cleland said, “the reality of our system of justice is that no date for a trial is ever perfect, but some are better than others.”

Later in the day, Cleland also denied an interlocutory appeal that had been made on Sandusky's behalf immediately after the earlier ruling.

Jury selection in the Sandusky case will start June 5. Cleland said he intends to begin the actual trial June 11. Indeed, the county's online media credentialing system now says the trial will start in Courtroom 1 of the Centre County Courthouse at 9 a.m. on June 11.

Also Wednesday, Cleland heard arguments on whether charges stemming from the alleged assaults of three alleged victims should be dropped due to insufficient evidence. The 40-minute hearing adjourned with Cleland having not ruled on the requests.

During the hearing, however, Cleland may have tipped his hand on his pending decision when he told defense attorney Joe Amendola that contesting the evidence could have been done more effectively at a preliminary hearing. Sandusky waived his right to a preliminary hearing in December and the case was automatically bound over to trial.

“Doesn't the jury have to hear witnesses and then decide?” Cleland said.

Sandusky is currently under house arrest awaiting trial. He did not attend Wednesday's hearing.

Wednesday saw Cleland issue an order regarding media coverage of the trial, too.

When jury selection for the trial begins next week, there will be limited media access to the court. Five local outlets will be credentialed along with two pool reporters.

For the actual trial, 85 media members will be allowed into the courtroom. Additional media will be able to watch the trial in an overflow room in a nearby annex.

Media rules for the trial are the same as they were for earlier hearings. Cell phones, laptops and the like may be used during the trial, but not to record or broadcast any verbatim account of the proceedings while court is in session.

The trial will not be televised.

Members of the public attending the trial will not be allowed to use electronic devices.

There was a light turnout of media for Wednesday's hearing. About 10 satellite trucks were parked outside the courthouse, many of them local. Inside Courtroom 1, less than 50 people were in the gallery when the hearing began, the vast majority of them reporters.

The turnout next week is expected to be much greater, and police in this small community are already preparing for the onslaught. Media are being asked to park in municipal lots several blocks away from the courthouse. Reporters have also been warned that jaywalkers will be ticketed.

The weather in Bellefonte was hot and humid Wednesday, with temperatures climbing into the 80s. Reporters and photographers working outside before and after the hearing sought refuge in shaded areas.

Though the Centre Country Courthouse itself was built in the early 1800s, it has undergone several renovations through the years. Courtroom 1 is air-conditioned and features five large ceiling fans, which kept things cool during the hearing.

It remains to be seen if that will suffice when the trial heats up early next month.

Sandusky was charged late in 2011 with 52 counts involving 10 boys he allegedly abused in the years between 1994 and 2008.

The charges center around Sandusky's relationships with boys he met through his charity for at-risk kids, The Second Mile, in that time span.

At least some of the alleged abuse happened in Penn State football facilities, according to prosecutors.

The Sandusky allegations set off a huge scandal at the university, leading to the firing of Hall of Fame football coach Joe Paterno and the ousting of university President Graham Spanier.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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