(BELLEFONTE, Pa.) — A mental health expert will be allowed to testify that former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky, accused of molesting 10 boys, suffers from a psychiatric condition that causes him to act in an “overly seductive” manner and that his lawyer claims would explain his displays of affection towards the boys.
Judge John Cleland granted Sandusky’s motion to submit evidence of “histrionic personality disorder” under the stipulation that the defendant also make himself available to the government’s own psychiatrists, so prosecutors could prepare a rebuttal.
According to the National Institutes of Health, histrionic personality disorder “is a condition in which people act in a very emotional and dramatic way that draws attention to themselves.”
Symptoms of the condition include “acting or looking overly seductive,” “being overly dramatic and emotional” and “believing that relationships are more intimate than they actually are,” according to the NIH.
Eight young men testified this week that Sandusky showered with them, soaping them up, playing the “tickle monster,” and that his actions frequently led to aggressive sexual acts including anal rape and oral sex.
He also wrote what one victim called “creepy” love letters.
“The jury should not be misled into believing these statements and actions are likely grooming when they are just as likely or more likely histrionic in origin,” wrote defense attorney Karl Rominger in the June 11 filing.
The judge Friday granted the motion, but required “pursuant to counsel” that Sandusky be evaluated by a government expert.
It is currently unknown whether Sandusky’s lawyers would go forward with putting their expert on the stand now that it means turning over their client for psychiatric evaluation by the state.
The motion would not, however, require Sandusky to take the stand.
Sandusky 68, a Penn State football coach and founder of children’s charity, is charged with 52 counts of sex abuse against 10 boys. He could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted.
The scandal rocked Penn State and forced the firings of school president Graham Spanier and legendary head football coach Joe Paterno.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Stefania Okolie and Gabrielle Harmon, CNN
Stephen Collinson, CNN