BELLEFONTE, Pa. — Accused child sex abuser Jerry Sandusky's wife took the stand in his defense here Tuesday afternoon, but the high drama many expected never materialized. Instead, a sometimes baffling showdown between rival forensic psychiatrists generated the most buzz in the afternoon session in Day 6 of the trial.
Earlier in the day, the defense scored its first real victory of the trial when it cast serious doubt on the credibility of two police investigators in the case.
The defense is expected to close its case Wednesday morning, but it still is not clear if Sandusky — who is facing 51 charges of molesting 10 boys over a 15-year period — will take the stand in his own defense.
Courtroom 1 in the Centre County Courthouse became quiet in anticipation when Sandusky's wife, Dottie, took the stand. Wearing a green blouse and sweater over dark pants, she looked noticeably thinner than she did when this scandal first broke last November.
Her testimony — even under cross-examination — was not the slightest bit emotional.
Of the eight known alleged victims in the case, she admitted to knowing six and recalled most of them staying at the family home on different occasions. However, she denied seeing her husband doing anything inappropriate with any of them.
She struggled to recall the number of times each boy stayed at the house or when they stayed, saying, I'm sorry, I'm not really good with years. But she recalled very specific details about certain boys.
She said one, had problems. He was very demanding and wanted his way and didn't listen a lot. Another was, very clingy to Jerry and would never look people in the eye. Yet another was, a charmer. He knew what to say and when to say it.
Asked if her basement was soundproof, as one accuser who said his screams for help while allegedly being raped by Jerry Sandusky went unanswered testified, she replied no. And she discounted the notion that she and her husband ever forced children to sleep in their finished basement. We would give them a choice, she said, adding there were bedrooms in the basement, on the first floor and on the second floor.
She did allow, however, that her husband was usually the last to see visiting boys at night. He would go down and tell them goodnight, she said.
Regarding an alleged incident at the Alamo Bowl in 1999, when the witness identified as Victim 4 testified that Dottie Sandusky walked in on him and Jerry Sandusky naked in a hotel bathroom, only to quickly leave the room, she painted a completely different story.
She testified that she walked in on an argument between her husband and the boy in a hall in the room, and that both were clothed. The argument, she contended, was over the boy backing out of going to a team banquet.
He was yelling, she said of her husband at the time. I don't know what he said.
Her cross-examination lasted less than 10 minutes, as lead prosecutor Joe McGettigan did not ask any questions about the most graphic acts her husband is accused of committing.
Psycho talk from the experts
Dottie Sandusky testified between two psychiatrists, both of whom were classified as expert witnesses. The scope of their testimony was supposed to be limited to the so-called creepy love letters Sandusky sent to Victim 4, but Judge John Cleland maintained very loose boundaries.
The first expert, Dr. Elliott Atkins, testified for the defense and said he had diagnosed the 68-year-old Jerry Sandusky with Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD). He described it as a disorder where people are attention seekers who are often overly affectionate.
He said one of two standardized tests he conducted on Sandusky indicated HPD and that a psychological exam affirmed it. The letters in question — which were extremely emotional — confirmed my diagnosis.
Most of the courtroom appeared to become disinterested as his technical testimony dragged on, at one point prompting Cleland to admonish him to stay on point by saying, Doctor, please.
Prosecution rebuttal witness Dr. John O'Brien methodically picked apart Atkins' argument. He noted that the results from the test that indicated Sandusky had HPD also suggested he was being deceptive with his answers and that said results should be viewed with caution.
He added that both standardized tests — as well as his own examination — suggested Sandusky was portraying himself in overly positive terms and denying having problems.
Heads turned when O'Brien said HPD would have prevented Sandusky from, being an assistant coach, being upstaged by his boss. Sandusky was a well-respected assistant to Penn State Hall of Famer Joe Paterno from 1969-99.
O'Brien described Sandusky's letters to Victim 4 as highly manipulative. When asked if Sandusky's behavior could in fact indicate psychosexual feelings toward adolescents, he answered, In my opinion, yes.
Near the end of his testimony, O'Brien admitted he and Atkins often find themselves on the opposite sides of court cases.
Most of the time when we're together, he said to a laugh from the room.
Atkins may re-take the stand Wednesday.
Eyes on the Prize-winner
Sara Ganim, the Pulitzer Prize winning reporter who broke the Sandusky scandal story for the Harrisburg Patriot-News, was served with subpoena papers in the courtroom Tuesday.
After the jury was excused for the day, Cleland took up a motion from the newspaper to quash the subpoena.
Defense attorney Joe Amendola said he wanted to call Ganim as a witness so she could authenticate the March 31, 2011 newspaper article that broke the story.
Then he said he had come into possession of an e-mail Ganim sent the mother of a victim. Amendola paraphrased it as saying, I'm suggesting you contact a certain investigator if you want the case to go forward.
The matter figures to be settled in a pre-trial meeting Wednesday morning.
The morning session
The defense finally began to slug back in the trial Tuesday morning, hammering inconsistent testimony and what appeared to be an outright lie from the Pennsylvania State Police officers who investigated the case.
The defense produced evidence — in the form of an accidental police recording of a discussion with the attorney for alleged Victim 4 — suggesting investigators indirectly and even directly informed the accuser of a progression of behavior that led to Sandusky's alleged crimes.
The recording in question came from an April 21, 2011 police interview with Victim 4. During a break, Cpl. Joseph Leiter thought he switched the recording machine off. But it remained on. Victim 4 left the room for a cigarette, and Leiter had what he thought was an off-the-record conversation with the man's attorney, Ben Andreozzi.
Jurors paid close attention, with several leaning forward to hear, as the recording was played in the courtroom. In it, Andreozzi expressed surprise that the time frame of Victim 4's story matches up with what previous accusers said.
Leiter went on to tell Andreozzi that other accusers spoke of Sandusky's alleged inappropriate rubbing, showers and oral sex with them. When Victim 4 re-entered the room — and it was known the conversation was being recorded — Leiter again spoke of the progression including oral sex and even rape.
It's amazing, the officer could be heard saying on the recording. If it was a book, you would be repeating word for word what other people told us. We know that there is a pretty well-defined progression in the way he operates.
Leiter and fellow officer Cpl. Scott Rossman had previously testified that they did not lead any of the alleged victims during their interviews. Neither was in the courtroom when the other was on the stand, and both were outside of the room when the recording was played.
The officers were recalled individually following the playing of the recording. When Rossman was asked if he had discussed Leiter's testimony while they were outside of the room, he answered with a flat, No.
Leiter was later asked if he had discussed his testimony with Rossman.
Yes, after I left (the stand), Leiter replied.
Asked if he could explain why Rossman would lie, Leiter said, I can't.
A dozen witnesses took the stand Tuesday morning, nine of them speaking strictly to Sandusky's character. Many in the courtroom appeared to be bored as the procession continued, but things heated up once the police investigators testified.