(Reuters) - The wife of convicted child molester and former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky said on Wednesday that he was innocent and that victims who testified against him were manipulated for money.
In her first television interview on the subject, Dottie Sandusky said on NBC’s “Today” show that she believed her husband’s contention that he had never molested boys, including incidents in their home in State College, Pennsylvania.
Jerry Sandusky, 70, a former defensive coordinator at Pennsylvania State University, was convicted of 45 counts of child sex abuse. He was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison for abusing 10 boys over 15 years, including on campus.
“I think they were manipulated. Once lawyers came into the case, they said there was money,” she said of the victims who testified in the 2012 trial.
Asked about newspaper commentators’ contention that she was complicit in the abuse, Sandusky said, “I‘m not a weak spouse.”
“As you know, they called me ‘Sarge’ because Jerry said I kept everybody in line. If they want to say that, let them say that.”
Penn State said in October it had paid $60 million to 26 men to settle the bulk of claims against it stemming from the scandal. They included one from the Sanduskys’ adopted son Matt.
Sandusky told “Today” she believed her husband’s contention that he was innocent.
“I definitely believe him because if I didn’t believe him ... when I testified at trial I could not have said what I said. I would have had to tell the truth,” she said.
Sandusky was joined in the interview by documentary filmmaker John Ziegler, who believes Jerry Sandusky is innocent and has interviewed him in prison.
The former coach’s $4,900-a-month pension was revoked when he was sentenced. The decision also ended benefits for his wife, and Jerry Sandusky is trying to have the pension restored.
The case shattered Penn State’s storied football program and focused national attention on child sexual abuse.
Editing by Bernadette Baum