Jerry Sandusky trial shifts to former Penn State coach's defense with prosecutors likely to rest case
(CBS/AP) As the child sex abuse trial of Jerry Sandusky enters its second week, jurors may soon see the former Penn State assistant football coach take the witness stand and answer to last week's graphic testimony from his accusers.
Prosecutors are expected Monday to rest their case, leaving Sandusky's lawyers to present their defense against the charges that he abused 10 boys over 15 years. CBS News has been told Sandusky is expected to testify, according to legal sources inside and outside the courtroom. Sandusky has maintained his innocence.
A development in the case Friday provided a glimpse at what else Sandusky's lawyers may present to the jury.
Judge John Cleland granted a motion to let the defense have an expert testify about a psychiatric condition called histrionic personality disorder. A Sandusky lawyer says the testimony will help explain letters the former coach wrote to his accusers and other actions being construed as him grooming victims.
Cleland's order also said Sandusky must make himself available for prosecutors so they can prepare rebuttal psychiatric testimony.
The American Psychiatric Association's diagnostic manual calls histrionic personality disorder "a pervasive pattern of excessive emotionality and attention seeking" and "often characterized by inappropriate sexually seductive or provocative behavior" and rapidly shifting emotions.
Sandusky has acknowledged publicly that he "horsed around" with young boys, showered with them after workouts, hugged them and had other physical contact but said he never acted with sexual intent. He said in interviews after his arrest that he is not a pedophile but in retrospect realizes that he should not have showered with the boys.
Last week's testimony contrasted sharply with Sandusky's statements, with one accuser telling the jury that, as a boy, Sandusky lifted him up chest-to-chest to rinse his hair in a shower. Another accuser testified that Sandusky blew on his stomach and touched his penis in bed during a sleepover at Sandusky's house. A third told the court he screamed as Sandusky anally and orally raped him in the former coach's basement, hoping Sandusky's wife, Dottie, would hear.
In his opening statement to the jury June 11, defense attorney Joseph Amendola said the accusers' allegations are flimsy and suggested that some of them have a financial stake in the outcome because they want to sue Sandusky and others. However, several of the accusers have said that police contacted them and that they expressed their reluctance to get involved.
The defense motion for introducing evidence of the personality disorder before jurors said people with the condition would not necessarily be grooming boys to molest them but instead might be trying to "satisfy the needs of a psyche" with the disorder.
"The jury should not be misled into believing these statements and actions are likely grooming when they are just as likely or more likely histrionic in origin," wrote defense attorney Karl Rominger in the June 11 filing.
Dr. Glen Gabbard, clinical professor of psychiatry at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, said histrionic personality disorder is overwhelmingly diagnosed in women and could in no way be seen as a reason or explanation for the abuse of children.
"That diagnosis, if he has it, would be completely irrelevant to anything having to do with criminal responsibility for acts of pedophilia," said Gabbard, who is an expert on personality disorders.
"It would make no sense to use this as a defense," said Gabbard, noting he could not diagnose Sandusky. "You are still very much in control of what you do and what you say."
The diagnosis involves someone who suffers highly emotional shifts from one state to another, he said, someone who is overly dramatic, seductive and likes being the center of attention. The classic example, Gabbard said, would be Marilyn Monroe.
"These are people who act like your friend when they just barely met you," he said.
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