Defense in Sandusky sex abuse trial could start Monday
(Reuters) - The defense in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case expects to start calling witnesses on Monday, and may turn to a psychological defense to counter often-graphic testimony against the former Penn State assistant football coach.
Sandusky, accused of sexually abusing 10 boys, could be examined on Sunday by a psychologist selected by the prosecution as it prepares to rebut any move by the defense team to ascribe his alleged crimes to a mental health disorder, according to a CNN report.
The fast-moving trial in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, will resume after the prosecution wrapped up four days of testimony on Thursday and Judge John Cleland gave jurors Friday off.
Defense attorney Joe Amendola told the Centre County Court in his opening statement he faced a daunting task since the 68-year-old coach had undergone a "tidal wave" of negative publicity.
Last week's testimony did nothing to make Amendola's job easier. Eight accusers aged from 18 to 28 gave accounts of alleged abuse ranging from groping and showers in Penn State lockers to anal and oral sex.
In addition to the alleged victims' testimony, Penn State coach Mike McQueary and a janitor testified they saw Sandusky with boys in Penn State showers two separate times.
Sandusky, a former defensive coordinator for Penn State's high-powered football program, faces 52 counts of sexual abuse of 10 boys. He could be sentenced to more than 500 years in prison if convicted.
The explosive scandal led to the firing in November 2011 of university President Graham Spanier and head coach Joe Paterno, the most successful coach ever in major college football. Paterno died of cancer in January.
PATERNOS ON WITNESS LIST
Amendola told reporters he expected to start calling witnesses on Monday. He has submitted a list of potential witnesses that includes Paterno's widow Sue and son Jay, and Sandusky's wife Dottie and other family members.
A spokesman for Sue and Jay Paterno has said they were not aware they were potential witnesses until Amendola released the list during selection of the jury of seven women and five women.
Amendola has also said Sandusky will testify.
The defense scored a victory on Friday when Cleland ruled that it could enter expert testimony that Sandusky suffered from histrionic personality disorder.
People with the disorder are highly emotional attention-seekers who show inappropriate sexually seductive behavior.
CNN, citing one unnamed source "with knowledge of the case," reported an examination by a psychologist selected by the prosecution could take place on Sunday. It said the exam would not disrupt the schedule for the trial to resume on Monday.
Neither Amendola nor lead prosecutor Joseph McGettigan could be reached to comment on the CNN report. Attorneys in the case are under a gag order.
A support group for child sex abuse victims, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), predicted Amendola's move would fail.
"A therapist can say you're histrionic and the law can still say you're a criminal. One doesn't rule out the other," SNAP Director David Clohessy said.
Amendola has contended the accusers are out for money, with several hiring private attorneys, and pointed to inconsistencies in testimony, such as dates. He has also noted that some kept in touch with Sandusky for years after the alleged abuse. (Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by David Brunnstrom)
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