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Sandusky wasn't convincing -- more like convicted

Jerry SanduskyJoe PaternoJustice SystemThe Pennsylvania State UniversityNBC

I don’t know why Jerry Sandusky or his attorney thought it was a good idea to launch a media offensive and submit to interviews on NBC and CNN on Monday night.

Perhaps what passes for a brain trust on Team Sandusky thought it was better than being spotted at Dick’s Sporting Goods around Penn State wearing Penn State apparel while inexplicably out on bail awaiting trial on charges of sexually abusing eight boys over a 15-year period on Penn State grounds.

If that’s an example of the kind of legal counsel Sandusky will get, then people who want to see the former Penn State defensive coordinator locked up might get their wish.

Silence would’ve been the better option because in attempting to maintain innocence, Sandusky and his lawyer seemed to underscore his guilt.

“I could say I’ve done some of those things,’’ Sandusky told Bob Costas in a telephone interview on NBC’s “Rock Center with Brian Williams.’’  “I have horsed around with kids I have showered (with) after workouts. I have hugged them, and I have touched their legs without intent of sexual contact.’’

So now you have the accused admitting he showered with boys again and again and again, horsed around with them in the shower again and again and again, and touched them again and again and again. That’s criminal to some degree already. That’s criminal again and again and again.

So, why would any juror who isn’t being paid off or who isn’t a mouthbreathing Paterno-head believe that’s where it stopped?

Joe Amendola, Sandusky’s attorney, made it sound as if it’s OK for a grown man to shower with boys. Amendola claimed that’s just the “jock’’ mentality. In my world, that's a sick mentality.

Amendola said Team Sandusky has “information’’ that the boy at the center of the investigation will come forward and say he wasn’t raped in the shower by Sandusky as then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary claimed he witnessed before telling head coach Joe Paterno.

Amendola didn’t produce the alleged victim. Amendola didn’t claim that the alleged victim has recanted anything to authorities. Amendola just said he has “information.’’

It sounds as if the “information’’ is a message to prosecutors, but especially to the alleged victims. It’s a message that is standard strategy in sexual abuse cases: The defense is daring the victims to make themselves known and testify amid the mental and emotional scars that might never go away and certainly will be ripped open to bleed over again if they take the stand.

I can’t imagine how miserable, painful and gut-wrenching that experience must be for victims. Terror, loathing, guilt, vulnerability, disbelief, depression --- to be violated is despicable. To relive it seems punitive.

That’s why defense attorneys force victims to do it.

And yet, if the alleged key victim and several other alleged victims will claim the grand jury case is wrong, then why wouldn’t they be saying that now to help a man as generous and fun-loving and big-hearted as Sandusky?

Not that Sandusky came off as any of that Monday night. He hardly came off as a man who believes he has been wronged.

Sandusky didn’t sound strong. He didn’t sound defiant. No anger, no indignation. He tried to say he was innocent, but did it with a voice begging for mercy.

If I was charged with crimes and knew I was innocent, then I’d be screaming it from the highest building on campus and be screaming it from the start.

Sandusky was lame and evasive, from “Ask (fill in a witness’ name)’’ to “I can’t exactly recall.’’ He made some distinct pauses. He repeated some questions. That’s a massive tell. Repeating the question means someone is looking for an answer. At one point, the question Sandusky repeated regarded whether he was attracted to boys.

All with a dull, flat, almost resigned-to-his-fate tone of voice.

The most telling part of the interview came when Costas asked Sandusky if Paterno ever talked to him about any part of the stories or alleged events.

Sandusky said no. Sandusky said no each time Costas tweaked the scenario, from asking whether Paterno talked to him about the story or the charges or the need for behavioral help. Sandusky said no and left it at that.

The answer further condemned Paterno and further indicted Sandusky.

It’s ludicrous to imagine that Paterno, who cast himself as a moral paragon, wouldn’t ask someone that close to him for so many years whether he raped a boy.

Why wouldn’t Paterno follow up with Sandusky as a concerned friend? A friend helps.

Why wouldn't Paterno follow up as the outraged moral center of Penn State? A moral center leads.

Paterno did neither. Paterno was neither. Sandusky’s answer revealed Paterno as a sanctimonious hypocrite. Sandusky’s answer also revealed himself as guilty.

I can only conclude that Paterno would find no need to follow up if he knew that Sandusky had committed such acts for many years.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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