(BELLEFONTE, Pa.) — After the prosecution made an emotional plea before jurors on Thursday to convict Jerry Sandusky in his child sex abuse trial, a bombshell revelation came to light: the former Penn State football coach’s adopted son had told prosecutors he was willing to testify against him.
The jury of seven women and five men were sequestered Thursday afternoon to begin deliberating Sandusky’s guilty or innocence on 48 charges of sex abuse.
While they met behind closed doors, Matt Sandusky — who had defended the man who adopted him throughout the investigation — issued a statement saying that he had been prepared to tell the jury that he had been sexually abused too.
“Matt Sandusky, one of Jerry Sandusky’s adopted children, asked us to confirm with you…that he was prepared to testify truthfully as a Commonwealth witness,” said the statement issued by lawyers Andrew Shubin and Justine Andronici.
“During the trial, Matt Sandusky contacted us and requested our advice and assistance in arranging a meeting with prosecutors to disclose for the first time in this case that he is a victim of Jerry Sandusky’s abuse. At Matt’s request, we immediately arranged a meeting between him and the prosecutors and investigators,” the statement said.
“This has been an extremely painful experience for Matt….There will be no further comment at this time,” the lawyers said.
Sources close to the case said that Matt Sandusky, one of six children adopted by the Sanduskys, contacted prosecutors late last week to say that he was willing to testify. Prosecutors couldn’t call him to the stand for direct questioning because he was not included in the charges against his father.
But they could have called Matt Sandusky to the stand as a rebuttal witness if Jerry Sandusky took the stand, sources said.
Lawyers for Jerry Sandusky said they were considering allowing him to testify up until the last day of testimony Wednesday when they changed their mind.
Matt Sandusky is one of six children he and his wife adopted. Matt had been one of his father’s staunchest supporters despite his birth mother Debra Long testifying before a grand jury that her son was upset about staying with Sandusky. Matt Sandusky attempted suicide several months after moving in with Sandusky in 1995.
In addition, Matt Sandusky’s wife got an order of protection on behalf of their children against the elder Sandusky.
During the trial Thursday, a prosecutor stood behind Sandusky, accusing him of taking “pieces of 10 souls,” and asking the jurors to “find him guilty of everything.”
“That’s the person who did it, right there. It’s not about conspiracies, fame or fortune or money,” prosecutor Joseph McGettigan said. “I ask you not to forget that they were boys, and what Mr. Sandusky did to them.”
The jury of seven women and five men were dispatched by Judge John Cleland to begin deliberating Sandusky’s guilt or innocence after the closings. 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.
The jury will be sequestered during their deliberations and is expected to work through the weekend if they have not returned a verdict by Friday.
Sandusky’s wife, Dottie, and adopted daughter Kara were in the court for him, with Kara crying towards the end of defense attorney Joseph Amendola’s closing argument. Four of his alleged victims were also in the courtroom to watch the trial’s finale.
McGettigan, speaking softly directly in front of the jury box, said that Sandusky fit the profile of a predatory pedophile, and used the alleged victims to illustrate the different steps a pedophile takes as he progresses toward abuse.
“The first time he showered with (Victim 5), he hugs him, picks him up, squeezes him. It’s step one in predatory pedophile behavior,” he said. He described steps two and three as increased sexual touching with the men known as Victim 6 and Victim 7.
“After that predatory behavior became full blown, anal sex, with (Victim 1), (Victim 4), (Victim 8). He thinks these are relationships,” the prosecutor said.
McGettigan’s closing argument followed Amendola’s final statement to the jury, in which the defense lawyer alleged that investigators were out to get Sandusky and were ruining his reputation and life.
“I think there’s a conspiracy alleged,” McGettigan said in response to Amendola’s defense. “It began with two troopers and expanded from there, and includes any number of people. But the great thing about conspiracies that they bear no weight. The magic construction collapses under its own weight, and that’s kind of what you see here.”
McGettigan went quickly over his points to the jury, saying that they should keep in mind that if the accusers seemed to become agitated on the stand it was because they were nervous, and that when they were pressed by Amendola about dates or specifics they often came back with even more detail about the alleged abuse.
“(Victim 1)’s difficulty in speaking was because of the tremendous response he had to his recollection of abuse. You saw someone who just wants it to be done. You have to have some compassion for people in that,” he said.
McGettigan put a slide on a projector that he had showed during his opening statements, which said that “humiliation, shame, fear = silence.”
“That’s why we have been delayed, why justice has been delayed,” McGettigan said, pointing to the slide. “But it is up to you to see that justice is not denied.”
McGettigan ended with an emotional appeal to the jury, saying, “I have pieces of 10 souls in my pocket…child lives ravaged by this pedophile.”
He walked across the courtroom to Sandusky, who turned and looked up at McGettigan behind his chair.
“It’s beyond my capacity. I can’t give that back, and neither can you. It can’t be done,” McGettigan said. “He molested and abused. Find him guilty of everything.”
Before McGettigan spoke, Amendola gave an impassioned argument for the jury to exonerate Sandusky, saying he had been “slammed” by accusers who are out for money and investigators who pressured witnesses into making false claims.
“After all these years, when Jerry Sandusky is in his mid-50s, Jerry decides to become a pedophile? Does that make sense to anybody?” Amendola asked the jury. “It doesn’t add up. It makes no sense, absolutely no sense.”
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, Sandusky 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.”
Earlier Thursday, Judge John Cleland gave the jury some guidelines for its deliberations.
“It is not necessarily a crime for an adult to touch a child,” the judge said.
“It is not necessarily a crime for a man to take a shower with a boy, wash a boy’s hair, lather his shoulders, or engage in back rubbing or back cracking,” he said. “What makes this kind of ambiguous contact a crime is the intent with which it is done. You must determine it is an act of lust.”
The judge also dismissed three charges, lowering the number of counts against Sandusky from 51 to 48.
Cleland went over each of the crimes charged against Sandusky, explaining what criteria must be met for Sandusky to be found guilty on any of them.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
MC2 Amanda L. Owens, U.S. Navy
Stephen Collinson, CNN
Pamela Brown, CNN