December 15, 2011 / 12:25 AM / 8 years ago

Sandusky lawyer waived preliminary hearing to avoid bail hike

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - The attorney for former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky said on Wednesday that he waived the right to a preliminary hearing in the child sexual abuse case to stop prosecutors from asking for a bail increase that could send his client back to jail.

Sandusky, 67, who faces some 50 counts of abuse, posted $250,000 bail to get out of jail last week and is under house arrest at his State College, Pennsylvania, home monitored by an electronic ankle bracelet.

He was scheduled for a preliminary hearing Tuesday in Common Pleas Court in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, but at the last minute the defense waived its right to the hearing and opted instead to take the case directly to trial sometime next year.

“Jerry doesn’t have a whole lot of money left,” attorney Joseph Amendola told Reuters.

Sandusky paid his $250,000 bail last week by putting up his house as collateral as well as $50,000 in cash, Amendola said.

The prosecutor intended to raise the bail after the start of the preliminary hearing, at which some of the 10 men who say Sandusky abused them as children were expected to testify, Amendola said.

“He was going to ask the judge to increase the bail,” Amendola said of the prosecutor. “I expected it would be substantial.”

Prosecutors had originally asked for $1 million bail last week when Sandusky was hit with charges involving two more accusers in addition to the original group of eight alleged victims. The judge set the amount at $250,000 instead.

“The bail issue was one of the factors, but probably the main factor,” he said of the defense waiver.

The other contributing factor, he said, was that prosecutors planned to call 11 witnesses to testify against Sandusky, including some of the alleged victims, in the preliminary hearing.

“We would not have had the ability to counterpunch,” Amendola said, since the defense is not allowed to raise doubts about a witness’s credibility at a preliminary hearing.

Amendola’s sudden decision to waive the preliminary hearing on Tuesday stunned the hundreds of reporters who had gathered in the courthouse and an overflow room with a closed circuit television for the start of the hearing.

Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Jerry Norton

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