The scandal nearly brought down the Penn State football program and forced legendary coach Joe Paterno to retire in disgrace.
Now Jerry Sandusky, 68, is set to stand trial on charges of abusing at least ten boys over nearly 20 years. As reported on TIME, the former Penn State football coach is back in the spotlight as jury selection gets underway in the small town of Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. After he waived a preliminary hearing, today’s proceedings will mark the first time the former coach will face his accusers in a courtroom.
Sandusky was arrested last November after a grand jury investigation unearthed the alleged 15-year-long scandal. He faces 52 counts of criminal sexual abuse that allegedly occurred from 1994 – 2008, which spans the time Sandusky was defensive coordinator at Penn State and while he was head of The Second Mile, the charity he founded to help troubled youths.
The grand jury investigation also alleges several Penn State coaches and administrators, including Joe Paterno (who has since passed away from lung cancer) and university president Graham Spanier (who lost his job), were aware of the allegations and did not notify police.
Eight of Sandusky’s alleged victims are reported to be taking the stand to testify against Sandusky, although as TIME reports, his attorney, Joe Amendola, has said several times that he expects a number of the boys to recant their statements. “At least five of the accusers who are slated to testify — all of whom are now adults — have petitioned the court to hide their identities using pseudonyms, a request which Judge John Cleland denied Monday. “While I will make every effort to be sensitive to the nature of the alleged victims’ testimony, once the trial begins the veil must be lifted.”
Sandusky, who has repeatedly claimed he is innocent of all charges, has been on house arrest since the scandal broke. If convicted on all counts he faces more than 500 years in prison.
The question is, can an impartial jury be seated? As TIME notes, “with an overwhelming majority of Centre County residents counting on Penn State for their paychecks, the area is dominated by employees of the university and its loyal fans — making the selection of an impartial, unbiased jury difficult. Judge Cleland has rejected the prosecution’s request for an out-of-town jury, but he’s said he would reconsider the notion if the jurors couldn’t be selected in a reasonable amount of time.”
What do you think?
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