BELLEFONTE — Defense attorney Joe Amendola said over and over again to jurors that the prosecution’s case against Jerry Sandusky “doesn’t make any sense” during his closing argument Thursday morning.
Amendola went through many aspects of the prosecution and tried to pick apart testimony from alleged victims and the whole investigation into Sandusky that started in 2008.
“The system decided Jerry Sandusky was guilty and the system set out to convict him,” said Amendola.
Amendola insinuated to jurors that the first victim to come forward did so for financial reasons. And after alleged Victim 1 from Clinton County told authorities at Central Mountain High School, Amendola said a chain reaction had begun. He told jurors from that point police were determined to find more victims and even went so far as to put words in the mouths of former Second Mile kids to say they had been abused.
“Not one counselor, not one kid, not one parent came forward before that,” Amendola said despite Sandusky interacting with thousands of kids over the years.
Amendola pointed out to jurors that most of the alleged victims testified that they didn’t share graphic details about sexual abuse when first approached by police. He said their description of sex acts only came after more and more interactions with the investigators.
“How do you defend against this? How does that man defend against this?” Amendola said while pointing to Sandusky. “Folks, do we have to be hit in the head with a brick to figure this out?”
He said investigators were determined to convict Sandusky “come hell or high water.”
“Jerry is 68 years old. The earliest allegations that they have with all the publicity and these charges only go back to the mid 1990s,” said Amendola questioning why there aren’t victims from the first 20 years Sandusky ran The Second Mile. “So all of a sudden, when Jerry Sandusky is in his mid 50s he decides to become a pedophile? Does that make any sense?”
Another key part of his closing argument had to do with timing. Amendola said many of the victims’ stories of abuse happened during the same time. He said that some of the alleged victims testified about staying at Sandusky’s home nearly every weekend. He questioned how that was possible if some of the abuse was allegedly happening during the same time frame and the alleged victims said they were usually the only boy in the home.
He also brought up Sandusky’s busy schedule as a coach in the late 1990s when he would work 12 to 17 hours a day. He told jurors to question how Sandusky could have time for all the boys and all the abuse if he had hardly any free time.
He also questioned how all this could occur over so many years and only two people ever witnessed it, Mike McQueary and a janitor at the Lasch Football Building.
“Dottie Sandusky who adopted 6 kids was in that house constantly, he said. “Could all this sex be going on could all this activity be going on and the other kids not be aware or Mrs. Sandusky not be aware?”
“He took them to practices, took them to football games, took them on trips, is that what someone who commits horrible crimes does?” asked Amendola about Sandusky taking the alleged victims out in the public. “It doesn’t make sense.”
Amendola made a big issue out of most of the alleged victims hiring attorneys. Each of them testified they haven’t talked about making money out of the case, but Amendola said there’s no reason for them to have an attorney if they don’t want some financial gain. Each said on the stand that they haven’t paid their attorneys a thing yet.
“You have to decide if these kids and these lawyers who sat in this courtroom for two weeks without getting paid a penny are doing this out of the goodness of their hearts,” asked the jurors. “It doesn’t make any sense.”
Amendola tried to explain Sandusky’s performance during the nationally televised interview with NBC’s Bob Costas. He said Sandusky did it because he wanted to tell the world he was innocent. He said Sandusky was nervous. He pointed out that through much of the interview he repeated Costas’s questions, including the one where Costas asked if he was sexually attracted to young boys and Sandusky hesitated.
Amendola blasted Mike McQueary’s testimony and questioned McQueary’s actions the night he said he saw Sandusky raping a boy in the Lasch Football Building showers.
“Michael instead of stopping him, Michael instead of saying, ‘hey, what’s going on?’ Mike McQueary didn’t do one thing to stop what he said he saw. Not because he lied about what he saw, but because as he told us he couldn’t tell if there was penetration,” said Amendola.
“I submit to you that he assumed what he saw because he heard slapping sounds. You all know what they say when you assume,” added Amendola.
Amendola told jurors no one wins in this case, but he said Sandusky’s life has been wrecked by the accusations.
“On November 5 last year Mr Sandusky’s world came to an end, His wife’s world came to an end. His children’s world came to an end. Everything was challenged by young men who said he sexually assaulted them in one fashion or another,” said Amendola to the jurors.
“I’m the first to tell you if he did this he should rot in jail. But what if he didn’t do it? ” asked Amendola. “We have a fired university president. We have a dead coach. We have a tarnished university image.”
Amendola said Sandusky dedicated his life to helping kids and that is what he always wanted to do.
“Jerry’s book was called ‘Touched.’ I suggest to you that when this is all over, the next book he will write is ‘Slammed’, because that’s what is happening to him,” said Amendola in closing.