BELLEFONTE, Pa. — The Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse trial continued to move along at breakneck speed here Monday, as the day saw another dramatic prosecution witness, the defense begin its case by calling two former Penn State football coaches and the judge announce that the proceeding is on pace to go to jury Thursday morning.
Sandusky is the former Penn State assistant football coach who is now charged with 51 counts of molesting 10 boys over a 15-year period.
In the most dramatic moment of the fifth day of the trial, the final prosecution witness, the mother of Victim 9, grew angry when asked about the gifts Sandusky had lavished on her son during an alleged sexual relationship that latest years.
I wish he would have given him some underwear to replace the underwear I could never find in my laundry, she said while crying.
Last week, the now-18-year-old Victim 9 testified to being repeatedly sodomized by Sandusky between the ages of 12 and 16. When asked if his mother had ever seen evidence of the alleged acts while washing his clothes, he said she did not because he dealt with it in his own way.
The charges stemming from the alleged assault on Victim 9 were filed last December, about a month after Sandusky was first charged with other crimes in this case. The alleged victim's mother said shortly after the initial charges were filed Sandusky began to call her son, asking him to make an affidavit or some kind of statement on what kind of character person he is.
This alarmed the mother, she said, so she called a high school guidance counselor, who in turn called the police. Victim 9 was interviewed by police last November, and though initially vague on his relationship with Sandusky, later told a grand jury of the allegations of assault.
A single mother working two jobs, she admitted to all but forcing the child to spend weekends at Sandusky's house, even when he did not want to go.
I thought that was great, she said of the weekend visits, which she estimated happened two or three times per month for most of the year. He was Jerry Sandusky. He was a very important person.
I would ask why (her son didn't want to go), and he said he didn't feel like it, she added. I would make him go anyways.
She admitted she still does not know exactly what Sandusky is alleged to have done to her son.
No, I don't, she said, quivering. I just can't imagine.
It's not like I didn't want to know. But I knew it would be tough for him to tell me.
Former PSU coaches come to Sandusky's defense
The defense began its case in much less dramatic fashion, presenting a series of six witnesses, five of whom spoke to the strength of Sandusky's character.
Two of them — former Penn State assistant football coaches Dick Anderson and Booker Brooks — said men showering with boys is common in coaching circles.
I still do it, Anderson said. YMCA, I do it all the time. Brooks said he showers with his grandchildren, also at the YMCA.
The prosecution presented Brooks with the hypothetical of showering with the son of a near stranger, alone and naked, and then hugging the child. He was asked if that was inappropriate.
If he hugged him in the shower, yes sir, Brooks answered, meaning he did think such behavior would be inappropriate.
Many of the acts Sandusky is accused of committing are alleged to have taken place in athletic facility showers. He has admitted to showering alone and naked with boys.
Brooks last coached at Penn State in 1983. Anderson, meanwhile, spent 34 years on the Nittany Lions staff, including the last two decades. He said he retired in January, though it was obvious he would not have been retained by new head coach Bill O'Brien. O'Brien replaced Joe Paterno, who was fired in the wake of the Sandusky scandal and died of lung cancer in January.
Anderson, who also played football at Penn State with Sandusky in the early 1960s, testified to the busy schedules college coaches keep most of the year. He said during the season coaches work as much as 17 hours per day. He also said Sandusky was called on to do extra work, such as conducting clinics and doing speaking engagements.
Jerry probably did more than most, being defensive coordinator and a national name, Anderson said.
Defense attorney Joe Amendola was trying to drive home the point that it would have been difficult for Sandusky to spend as much time alone with boys as is being alleged while coaching and doing his duties with The Second Mile charity. Sandusky last coached at Penn State in 1999.
Last week, Anderson viewed opening arguments from the area reserved for Sandusky's family and friends before leaving the courtroom as a possible witness.
Brooks, who relocated back to central Pennsylvania three years ago after moving around the country for professional reasons, said he thinks Sandusky is a great guy.
But he may revisit that once the trial is complete.
I'll wait for the end of everything before I make my mind up, he said.
Others serve as character witnesses
Those also speaking on Sandusky's behalf included: a 30-year-old Army veteran; a high school teacher who once worked with The Second Mile and said Sandusky appeared to be an important part of the life of Victim 4 when he saw them together in 1999; and a former Second Mile fundraiser who traveled extensively with Sandusky.
The latter, Brent Pasquinelli, said, Jerry was a local hero.
One charge withdrawn; judge upholds others
Earlier Monday morning, the defense withdrew one of the 52 charges against Sandusky — an unlawful touching count against Victim 7 — because the statute of limitation had passed.
The defense petitioned to have more than 30 other charges thrown out due to non-specificity of dates and ages. But Judge John Cleland ruled that there was enough evidence for the jury to consider the charges.
Jury could get case Thursday morning
Cleland wrapped the day by dismissing the jury early, but only after reporting the defense would likely wrap its case by Wednesday at lunch, with rebuttal and closing arguments to be heard Wednesday afternoon.
He told the jurors to be prepared for a sequestered deliberation beginning Thursday morning.