BELLEFONTE, Pa. — As the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse trial winds down here, the defendant will not take the stand. The defense rested at 11:46 a.m. Wednesday, the seventh day of the high-profile trial.
At the start of proceedings June 11, defense attorney Joe Amendola had hinted that Sandusky would testify. But the defense apparently pulled the plug on that decision Wednesday morning.
With a gag order in effect for the trial, the defense team was not allowed to explain why Sandusky did not testify on his own behalf.
"Love you guys but I can't talk," assistant defense attorney Karl Rominger told a group of reporters after court recessed for the day.
Closing arguments are Thursday morning. Judge John Cleland said the case is on schedule to go to jury Thursday afternoon.
Sandusky, 68, is the former Penn State assistant football coach facing 51 charges of abusing 10 boys over 15 years.
What turned out to be the final day of testimony featured only four defense witnesses, including two meant to undermine the claims of star prosecution witness Mike McQueary. McQueary is the former Penn State assistant who says he saw Sandusky abusing a boy in a football locker room shower in 2001. The alleged victim in the incident never came forward, so the state's charges stemming from it hinge on McQueary's testimony.
Family friend contradicts key witness McQueary
Last week, McQueary said in court that he told his father and family friend Dr. Jonathan Dranov of what he had seen back in 2001, and that they understood it was of a sexual nature. The meeting in question took place the night of the alleged incident.
From the stand Wednesday, Dranov recalled the younger McQueary telling him of hearing what he described as sexual sounds from the shower in the locker room but never of seeing a sexual act taking place. He said McQueary reported that he saw a naked boy near the entrance of the shower and then an arm reaching out and pulling the boy back into the shower. Dranov said McQueary stated that he later saw Sandusky leaving the shower with the boy.
Dranov testified McQueary gave him no graphic details of what he had seen, but admitted, His voice was trembling, his hands were shaking. He was visibly shaken.
Golf tournament director misses the mark for defense
Also on the stand was Henry Lesch, the man who organized the annual celebrity fund-raising golf tournament for Sandusky's Second Mile charity. McQueary earlier testified that after the alleged 2001 incident, he never played in the tournament, as he did the best he could to avoid Sandusky.
Lesch produced the celebrity roster for the 2001 tournament and a thank you note to McQueary from the Second Mile for his participation in the 2003 tournament. But under cross-examination Lesch could not confirm that McQueary actually played in either tournament.
I would have recalled people who would have played, Lesch testified. Mr. McQueary would not be one of them (he recalled).
Former Second Mile kids rally behind Sandusky
The defense ended its case with two men who knew Sandusky through the Second Mile and who said they had long, positive relationships with the former coach. Both called Sandusky a father figure.
One, now a 35-year-old landscaper who first got to know Sandusky and even stayed at his house in the late 1980s, said he was always treated well by Sandusky and his family, even into his adult life.
This guy has done so much for me and for other people, Chad Rexroad of Pittsburgh said. That's why I'm here today.
A second man, 21-year-old David Hilton of Lancaster County, Pa., said he, too, met Sandusky through the Second Mile and ultimately stayed at Sandusky's house more than 50 times. He even took a trip to San Francisco with him. Hilton said he was never abused.
He accused police of trying to sway him to say he was abused. He was interviewed four different times.
I felt they wanted me to say something that wasn't true, Hilton said.
But he seemed to be caught off guard when the prosecution told him that his own uncle had actually contacted police when the Sandusky scandal broke last November, and asked them to look into his nephew's relationship with the former coach.
Lead prosecutor Joe McGettigan said the same uncle contacted him Tuesday night, as well.
Reporter spared from taking the stand
The defense also called Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Sara Ganim of the Harrisburg Patriot-News to the stand Wednesday. But she never got there. An attorney for the paper requested a meeting with the defense and prosecution, and it was resolved that her testimony would be handled via a stipulation.
That stipulation said that if asked, Ganim would admit to writing an email to the mother of an alleged victim in which she referred the mother to Pennsylvania State Police. Via Twitter, Ganim denied she would have answered in such a fashion.
The Tweet said: For the record, I would NOT have answered yes to that question. I would have declined to comment under Pa. Shield Law.