(BELLEFONTE, Pa.) — The judge overseeing the child sex abuse trial of former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky said on Monday that he had doubts about the strength of the prosecution’s case, but at this point in the trial is convinced that there is enough credible evidence that the charges should go to a jury.
Judge John Cleland’s statements of doubt about the state’s case contrasted with his consistent dismissal of motions by the defense to have charges dropped against Sandusky. Since Sandusky’s arrest in November, his defense attorney Joseph Amendola has repeatedly complained to Cleland that the charges against his client were too broad and too vague to be defended in court. Cleland dismissed Amendola’s complaints repeatedly, but said on Monday that even he wondered whether the alleged charges were too vague.
“I’ve been concerned about this since the beginning,” Cleland said. “There were very broad representations made by the Commonwealth on the bill of particulars. Since then, the Commonwealth has submitted an amended bill of particulars, and amended their information, which I believe now meets the standards of due process. Although early on I certainly was not persuaded that that was the case.”
Sandusky, 68, is charged with 52 counts of molesting 10 boys. He could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted of the charges.
Cleland’s statements followed a morning of legal wrangling over whether some of the counts of sex abuse against Sandusky should be tossed on Monday, as the prosecution wraps up its case.
Sandusky’s lawyers argued that the charges against him were too broad and vague because they lacked specific dates and locations, and gave Sandusky no shot at a good defense because he could not use alibis to prove that he was somewhere else.
Defense lawyer Karl Rominger said that the counts of indecent assault from the man known as Victim 2, whom assistant coach Mike McQueary allegedly saw in the shower with Sandusky, should be dimissed because McQueary did not actually see a sexual act taking place, and there was no direct evidence that a sexual act occurred. The victim in that alleged assault has never been identified.
Cleland sided with the prosecution, however, saying that the jury could decide if McQueary’s account was strong enough to prove a crime was committed.
The defense also asked for the counts stemming from Victim 6 to be dismissed on the grounds that the man testified he “blacked out” and did not remember parts of a shower with Sandusky, and therefore could not credibly allege that a crime was committed. Cleland said again that the jury should decide.
The prosecution, however, did withdraw one of the 52 charges against Sandusky, a third degree felony of endangering the welfare of children.
Sandusky is scheduled to begin his defense later on Monday and his star defense witness is likely to be his wife Dottie who is expected to say she never saw or heard anything suspicious in her husband’s behavior.
The defense is also expected to call on an expert witness to testify that Sandusky is diagnosed with histrionic personality disorder, a condition that they say makes him overly affectionate.
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