June 4, 2012 / 4:30 PM / 6 years ago

Accusers of former Penn State coach must give names-judge

June 4 (Reuters) - Jerry Sandusky’s alleged sex abuse victims will not be allowed to use fake names to hide their identities during the former Penn State University football coach’s criminal trial, a Pennsylvania judge ruled on Monday.

Prosecutors charge that Sandusky, 68, had sex with 10 boys over a 15-year period. Four of those boys - numbers 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 - filed motions last week asking for the permission to use pseudonyms when Sandusky’s trial begins.

But Judge John Cleland said he could not allow their true identities to be hidden during the public trial, which is expected to start around June 11. Jury selection begins on Tuesday.

“Secrecy is thought to be inconsistent with the openness required to assure the public that the law is being administered fairly and applied faithfully,” Cleland wrote in his order dismissing the request.

“It is argued in the motions that for an alleged victim of a sexual assault to fulfill that responsibility is so uniquely embarrassing that the person should be protected by being able to conceal his name. But why should any class of witnesses be protected? No victim of crime, after all, is spared the trauma of crime’s effects - and the severity of the trauma does not necessarily mirror the nature of the crime,” the judge said.

Cleland called the motions for pseudonyms “complicated, even controversial.”

The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape said last week it would not be in the best interests of public safety to force alleged Sandusky victims to reveal their true identities.

“Sex offenders continue their behaviors until they are caught and stopped, and the only way that we know who those people are is when victims are brave enough to come forth and tell us,” said PCAR spokeswoman Kristen Houser.

Judge Cleland also issued a ruling Monday barring reporters from using Twitter or email to post reports on the trial from the courthouse in the central Pennsylvania town of Bellefonte, near State College, where Penn State is based.

In his response to major media companies, which wanted him to clarify his decorum order governing the use of electronic media during the proceedings, Cleland said journalists may use their electronic “tools of the trade” to write quotes and details about the unfolding case.

But he said they may not tweet or email “any form of communication to any person or device either in or out of the courthouse or courthouse annex.”

The New York Times, CNN, The Wall Street journal, the Harrisburg Patriot-News, the Pennsylvania Newspapers Association and others wanted Cleland to modify his decorum order to allow the verbatim tweeting and emailing of courtroom events, which reporters have done at every pre-trial event to date.

Cleland said allowing tweets or emails during jury selection and the trial might “impact the judge’s ability to assure a fair trial could be conducted.” (Editing by Paul Thomasch and Eric Walsh)

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