BELLEFONTE, Pa. (AP) — Testimony in Jerry Sandusky’s child sex abuse trial neared its likely end Wednesday, but it remained unclear if the former Penn State assistant football coach would take the stand in his own defense.
Defense attorney Joe Amendola hinted in last week’s opening statements that Sandusky could testify, but the defense has stayed quiet on the issue since then.
Sandusky and Amendola didn’t answer questions as they arrived for the start of the case’s seventh day.
Judge John Cleland has said Sandusky’s defense team could wrap up Wednesday, which would mean closing statements taking place Thursday and deliberations beginning that afternoon.
So far, defense attorneys have called on a parade of character witnesses and sought to discredit police investigators in trying to counter the graphic testimony of eight accusers. Their most notable witness to date — Sandusky’s wife, Dottie — smiled as she took the witness stand Tuesday to defend him against charges he sexually abused boys in their home and on Penn State’s campus.
Dottie Sandusky said she remembered most but not all of the eight men who have accused her husband of abusing them as children. She told jurors she did not see him have inappropriate contact with them over the years they visited the couple’s home or traveled with them.
In a calm voice, she described her 45-year marriage to the former Penn State assistant football coach, but lead prosecutor Joe McGettigan appeared to stump her when he asked why the men might lie in making the accusations.
“I don’t know what it would be for,” she said, with a slight shake of her head.
Early on in her testimony, defense attorney Joseph Amendola, who typically questioned witnesses at the defense table, stood up to question her near the jury box — which put her husband out of her direct sightline during most of her hour on the witness stand.
A large portion of the day’s testimony, which included 11 more character witnesses, consisted of a defense psychologist, Elliott Atkins, who told jurors he believes Jerry Sandusky has a personality disorder that might explain letters addressed to one of his accusers.
Prosecutors countered with psychiatrist Dr. John Sebastian O’Brien II, who said that was not the case but that he might suffer from some other problem, possibly psychosexual disorder with a focus on pre-adolescents.
Sandusky is charged with dozens of criminal counts related to 10 boys over a 15-year span. He’s accused of engaging in illegal sexual contact ranging from fondling to forced oral and anal sex, and he could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted.
Part of the defense strategy is clearly to show that the details of accusers’ stories are wrong, but Dottie Sandusky was unable to say with much preciseness how often certain boys would stay in the couple’s State College home. She said one of the boys, called Victim 10 in court records, she did not know at all.
She described Victim 1 as “clingy,” Victim 9 as “a charmer” and Victim 4 as “very conniving, and he wanted his way and he didn’t listen a whole lot.”
The accuser known as Victim 9 testified last week that he was attacked by Jerry Sandusky in the basement of the ex-coach’s home and cried out for help when Dottie Sandusky was upstairs. She, however, said the basement was not soundproof and she would have been able to hear shouting if she was upstairs.
Prosecutors allege that Sandusky met his alleged victims through The Second Mile, a charity he founded. It once was lauded for its efforts to help at-risk children. They rested their case Monday after presenting 21 witnesses, including eight who said they had been assaulted by Sandusky. The identities of two other people prosecutors say were victims are unknown to investigators. The defense has called 24 witnesses.
Sandusky’s arrest led the university trustees to fire football coach Joe Paterno in November, saying his response to a 2001 report from team assistant Mike McQueary about seeing Sandusky in a shower with a boy showed a lack of leadership. Paterno, who said he wished he had done more, died of cancer in January.
Sandusky has acknowledged showering with boys but says he didn’t molest them.
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