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Six alleged victims may testify at hearing

Jerry Sandusky's preliminary hearing is Tuesday. A lawyer said as many as eight may appear but cautioned the plans were not set.

At least six alleged victims of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky may testify at his preliminary hearing on child-abuse charges next week, according to a lawyer representing one of the young men, who declined to be named.

A second source close to the investigation told The Inquirer that the number could be as many as eight but cautioned that prosecutors have not made final plans for the hearing, which is set for Tuesday in Bellefonte, Pa.

In other developments, Pennsylvania State University President Rodney Erickson said in an interview with USA Today that he would work to remake the public face of the university, shifting from a football-focused culture to that of a top-notch research institution.

And the Harrisburg Patriot-News reported another alleged victim has come forward, accusing Sandusky of giving him whiskey and assaulting him in the university football building in 2004. The now 19-year-old man was 12 at the time. He would mark the fifth alleged victim to have come forward since charges were brought against Sandusky last month. The grand jury that investigated Sandusky listed eight victims in its report.

With Sandusky's preliminary hearing approaching, it remains unclear what witnesses prosecutors plan to call, but attorneys for six alleged victims - all of whom previously testified before the grand jury - have been told to have their clients in the courtroom and ready to take the stand, said the attorney for one.

The possibility of the victims' testimony at a public court hearing has raised concern among other attorneys that their clients' identities could be made public.

"We are considering strategies for maintaining the confidentiality of our client," said Michael Boni, an attorney for the Centre County teen identified in the grand jury presentment as Victim 1.

He said those options could include asking a judge to allow their clients to testify under the pseudonyms they were granted in the grand jury presentment.

A spokesman for Attorney General Linda Kelly would not comment on the prosecution's strategy for the preliminary hearing.

"I'm not going to discuss the preliminary-hearing testimony at this point," said Kelly's spokesman Nils Frederiksen. "Our responsibility at a preliminary hearing is to present enough evidence to convince the court to hold the case over for trial."

He said the Attorney General's Office does not release a list of witnesses for preliminary hearings.

Sandusky, 67, is charged with 40 counts of child sex abuse involving eight young boys over a 10-year span.

Sandusky has denied he sexually abused any of the boys. Sandusky's attorney said he viewed the victims' potential testimony as an opportunity for cross examination.

"We look forward to questioning all commonwealth witnesses who testify," said Joseph Amendola. "For the very first time, we'll have the opportunity to face Jerry's accusers and question them under oath about the allegations."

Amendola had previously said that as many as half of the eight victims identified in the grand jury report would testify in his client's defense should the case go to trial. But since then, several have retained attorneys in preparation for civil suits.

Amendola said one of them - a man identified in the grand jury report as Victim 4 - had recently visited the former coach's home with his newborn son and asked that Sandusky and his wife would be a part of his son's life.

Contacted Tuesday, the now-27-year-old man's attorney balked at that notion.

Sandusky "still can't get his story straight," said Jeff Fitz, who is representing Victim 4 along with Harrisburg lawyer Benjamin Andreozzi.

Preliminary hearings for two others connected to the scandal, Penn State athletic director Tim Curley, who has been placed on administrative leave, and former Penn State vice president Gary Schultz, are scheduled for Dec. 16 in Harrisburg.

Schultz and Curley are charged with lying to the grand jury and failure to report to police.

Meanwhile, Erickson said Tuesday that he wants to shift the public face of the university from big-time football to "world class" academics.

The centerpiece of the effort will be the creation of a national center devoted to research on sexual abuse and treatment for victims, Erickson told USA Today, in his first extensive interview since being named to replace ousted president Graham Spanier last month.