Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Monica Yant Kinney: Sandusky punted to stay out of jail

Some will say Jerry Sandusky showed grace toward his accusers by sparing them the torment of testifying in public about their private hell. I am not so inclined.

Some will say Jerry Sandusky showed grace toward his accusers by sparing them the torment of testifying in public about their private hell. I am not so inclined.

Sandusky's unorthodox lawyer, Joseph Amendola, has granted interviews to anyone with a pen. He has allowed his client, the former Penn State assistant football coach, to vent on NBC and in the New York Times, with Sandusky spinning a PG version of showers and sleepovers with 10 boys, activities that now encompass more than 50 counts of sexual abuse.

Lawyer and client have talked themselves hoarse, and they possess a graphic map of what the young men will say on the witness stand. So Sandusky, ever the father figure, has exerted his authority and silenced his surrogate sons.

The defendant had the legal right to waive Tuesday's preliminary hearing, even if he showed poor form in pulling a fake before a packed courtroom. But don't kid yourself about Sandusky's motives. He punted to stay out of jail. If the testimony had been especially dramatic, prosecutors could have asked the judge for higher bail.

Passing on the preliminary hearing was an act of self-preservation. And that may set the stage for a plea deal that would keep those young men anonymous and quiet.

Sandusky's decision to put 10 families through the toll of preparing to bare their souls in public - only to be barred from uttering a word - bolsters the case for using civil courts as a sanctuary. Because even when prosecutors pursue a sex-abuse case in criminal court, there's no guarantee anyone but Sandusky will be heard.

Rambling man

Amendola, perhaps Pennsylvania's zaniest small-town legal eagle, seems to enjoy the glare of the freak show. He boasted recently that "there's a method to my madness." After court Tuesday, he urged people who believe the charges against Sandusky to call 1-800-REALITY - a number that turns out to be an an X-rated gay sex line costing from 99 cents to $2.95 a minute.

With Amendola's approval, Sandusky has said more about his life and alleged crimes since being indicted than some criminal defendants do during an entire trial.

Sandusky chuckled creepily in interviews about the charges, admitted getting naked with minors, and posed for photos with his beloved St. Bernard, Bo, whom he said he would miss dearly if he's sent to prison. On NBC, the loquacious coach paused uncomfortably for 16 seconds after being asked if he was sexually attracted to boys.

"If I say no, I'm not attracted to boys, that's not the truth," Sandusky later explained to the Times, "because I'm attracted to young people, boys, girls."

Amendola then interjected, "Yeah, but not sexually."

Another time, Sandusky seemed to compare his accusers to scorned lovers.

"Kids don't have a clue about unconditional love," he said, "about how when people interrelate, you're going to have conflicts, ups and downs.

"But if it means enough to you, you get through it."

Planning to plead?

Prosecutors insist that no plea deal is in the works and that Sandusky will be arraigned in January and tried within the year.

The colorful quote machine Amendola went further, pledging a "fight to the death" in which he will take aim at fellow coach Mike McQueary, the chief witness, who says he saw Sandusky raping a boy in 2002 in a Penn State shower.

"If we destroy McQueary's credibility," the lawyer said, "then we put the credibility of all others involved into question."

One victim who already feels under siege bashed Sandusky's stunt.

"I can't believe they put us through this until the last second, only to waive the hearing," the young man said in a statement released by his lawyer.

"Nothing has changed. I will still stand my ground, testify, and speak the truth."

Good for him, presuming he's allowed. If not, Sandusky may go to prison having the last word.