Sandusky Case Ending; More Activity Looms
By RICHARD PÉREZ-PEÑA
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — With the news that the child sexual abuse trial of Jerry Sandusky will go to the jury Thursday, after just nine days of testimony and arguments, whatever sense of relief people here feel is matched by the knowledge that the ordeal of the scandal that rocked the major institutions in this corner of Pennsylvania is far from over.
Defense lawyers rested their case Wednesday morning, ruling out a prospect that people here had viewed with a mix of fascination and dread: that Sandusky, a former Penn State assistant football coach, would take the witness stand to answer charges that he sexually abused 10 boys. The prosecution and the defense will make closing arguments Thursday.
But lurking ahead are the pending criminal charges against two former top Penn State officials, the possibility of further revelations leading to more indictments, potential lawsuits by Sandusky’s accusers, and an investigation commissioned by the university’s board of trustees, conducted by a former F.B.I. director, Louis J. Freeh.
In a region where emotions and livelihoods rise and fall with the university, people voiced eagerness to put the trial and the entire scandal behind them, but they are in for more news coverage, more accusations, more court cases.
“This trial is the big thing that people want to have resolved,” said Eddie Magulick, owner of Eddie’s, a bicycle shop across College Avenue from the Penn State campus. “It’s been devastating for this region, no question.”
Eric Silver, a sociology professor, said: “My sense of the situation is that the community is following the trial quietly but intently, and that folks here will be relieved when it is all over. I would guess that most people also are worried about what might come next.”
While some people here wanted Sandusky to testify and endure cross-examination by prosecutors, others were grateful to be spared that spectacle — in his few media interviews, he has been awkward and ineffectual in defending himself — or just glad that the trial might wrap up that much sooner.
“Let justice be done, and let’s get past it as soon as possible,” said Lynn McCoy, a hair stylist.
When the charges against Sandusky were made public last fall, several university officials were accused of not taking action to stop him when they should have. Graham B. Spanier, Penn State’s president, and Joe Paterno, the legendary head football coach who died in January, lost their jobs. Gary Schultz, a senior vice president, and Tim Curley, the athletic director, were indicted on charges of failing to report one episode to law enforcement, and lying to a grand jury about it.
On Wednesday, in the Centre County courthouse in nearby Bellefonte, Sandusky’s defense team called its final witnesses, still trying to sow doubt among jurors about the prosecution’s case on 51 criminal charges.
One of the most dramatic prosecution witnesses last week was Mike McQueary, the only witness aside from the accusers who said he saw Sandusky sexually assaulting a boy. McQueary testified that in 2001, when he was a young graduate assistant coach, he saw Sandusky pinning a young boy against the wall of a locker room shower at Penn State, his arm wrapped around the boy’s midsection, and claimed, “He was having sex with a minor.”
But on Wednesday, a McQueary family friend, Jonathan Dranov, testified that on the night of the incident, McQueary told him a somewhat different story. At the request of McQueary’s father, John, Dranov said, he drove to their home and found Mike McQueary “visibly shaken and upset.”
“His voice was trembling; his hands were shaking,” said Dranov, who is a doctor.
He said Mike McQueary told him that in the locker room, “he heard some sexual sounds,” but did not claim to see any physical contact. He said McQueary told him that a boy stepped out of the shower, not seeming upset, and then “an arm reached out and pulled the boy back.” A little later, he saw Sandusky step from the shower.
Asked by a prosecutor, Joseph McGettigan, if McQueary was someone who was easily shaken, Dranov said, “Certainly not.”
A defense lawyer, Karl Rominger, asked, “Did he describe any particular sex act?”
“No, he did not,” Dranov said. “He implied that it had gone on with what he had heard, sexual sounds,” but, he said, McQueary was too upset to elaborate on what kinds of sounds he meant.
The defense called as a witness Sara Ganim, the reporter for The Patriot-News of Harrisburg who won a Pulitzer Prize for breaking the story of the scandal. But after her lawyer conferred with both sides in the case and Judge John M. Cleland, she did not take the stand.
Instead, McGettigan explained to the jury that all sides agreed on two things: first, that Ganim would have been asked whether she spoke to the mother of one accuser before any charges were filed against Sandusky and told her how to contact law enforcement authorities; and second, that she would have answered “yes.”
The defense has repeatedly suggested that the abuse stories were suggested to the accusers by others, or that they were motivated by hopes of lawsuit payouts.