(NEW YORK) — Jerry Sandusky, his lawyer told a jury today, was “slammed” by accusers who are out for money and investigators who pressured witnesses into making false claims, despite years of helping children without anyone complaining of inappropriate behavior.
“After all these years, when Jerry Sandusky is in his mid 50s, Jerry decides to become a pedophile? Does that make sense to anybody?” his lawyer Joseph Amendola asked the jury. “It doesn’t add up. It makes no sense, absolutely no sense.”
The jury of seven women and five men will begin deliberating Sandusky’s guilt or innocence this afternoon after the prosecution completes its closing argument. If convicted of 48 counts of sex abuse against 10 boys, the former Penn State football coach, who is 68, could be sentenced to life in prison.
Sandusky’s wife, Dottie, and adopted daughter Kara were in the court for him, with Kara crying towards the end of Amendola’s closing. Four of his alleged victims were also in the courtroom to watch the trial’s finale.
Amendola, pacing back and forth in front of the jury box and gesturing with his hands, yelled that there was no way the investigation into Sandusky was fair or the allegations against him are credible.
“In November this man was charged with 40-some counts of the worst kinds of offenses. Within days Coach (Joe) Paterno was fired — fired! — after 30-some years as a coach,” Amendola said. He added that two other officials were arrested and the university president was fired over the allegations.
“This was a three year investigation,” he said. “In the interviews after the arrest, with the attorney general, the officers, everyone involved in this investigation, ‘Jerry’s a monster.’ If he’s such a monster why didn’t you arrest him in 2008? Take him off the streets? They didn’t feel comfortable charging him.”
Amendola touched on all the key themes he brought up during defense testimony and cross-examinations, including the idea that the accusers embellished their stories in the hopes of lucrative lawsuits later, key witness Mike McQueary did not see a sexual act taking place, and that Sandusky helped thousands of children before these accusations, none of whom ever made a complaint against him.
“No one ever made a complaint, not one complaint, out of hundreds of thousands of kids Mr. Sandusky interacted with. Not one parent, not one teacher ever said he did something,” Amendola said.
Victim 1, who launched the investigation that resulted in the charges, made a claim that Sandusky fondled him because he didn’t want to go to Sandusky’s house one night, Amendola said, relying on testimony from Victim 1’s neighbor.
“So what (Victim 1) did, I submit, was that he never anticipated the colossal chain of events that would ensue. He said Mr. Sandusky fondled him. That was the very first allegation,” he said.
That allegation yielded no other alleged victims until the investigation was leaked to the press, Amendola said, resulting in the other accusers being pressured by police to say that the same thing happened to them. At that point, Amendola argued, the investigators and prosecutors set out to prove that Sandusky had other victims and get a conviction.
“The system decided Mr. Sandusky was guilty and the system set out to convict him,” he said.
Amendola appealed to the nine jurors with ties to Penn State, deploring the fact that the charges brought down Paterno, the school’s elderly and beloved football coach, and damaged the school.
Amendola ended with a quote from Mother Teresa about standing for the truth, and then said that the next book Sandusky write will be called “Slammed,” because “that’s what happening to him, because everything he’s ever stood for, everything he’s ever loved, is gone.”
The jury of seven women and five men will be sequestered during their deliberations and is expected to work through the weekend if they have not returned a verdict by Friday.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Kareem Khadder, CNN
Jacqueline Howard, CNN
Stephen Collinson, CNN
Steve Visser, CNN