Sandusky opening statements: Prosecution calls Sandusky a serial predator, defense says 'victims' have financial stake in outcome
(CBS/AP) BELLEFONTE, Pa. - Opening statements initiated the Jerry Sandusky child sex trial on Monday with the lead prosecutor calling the former Penn State assistant football coach a serial predator and a defense lawyer saying the young men accusing Sandusky of sexual abuse have a financial interest in the outcome.
Senior Deputy Attorney General Joseph McGettigan III opened Sandusky's trial and said the 68-year-old retired coach was a pedophile who took advantage of children from fatherless or unstable homes and sexually abused them for years.
Apologizing in advance for what he said would be disturbing and graphic testimony, McGettican said the abuse included oral and anal sex involving boys Sandusky met through a children's charity. McGettican said the abuse took place "not over days, not over weeks, not even over months, but in some cases over years," reported The Associated Press.
Sandusky's lawyer Joe Amendola said the young men testifying against his client are accusers, not victims. He told jurors that Sandusky acknowledged showering with the children because it was innocuous and part of his upbringing.
"In Jerry's culture, growing up in his generation, where he grew up, he's going to tell you it was routine for individuals to get showers together," Amendola said. "I suspect for those of you who might have been in athletics, it's routine."
McGettigan said Sandusky showed a pattern of grooming boys, giving them gifts and then abusing them, sometimes in the Penn State football team's on-campus facilities. Snowboards, hockey sticks and other items were carried into the courthouse before the start of the morning session and they were described as gifts lavished on one of the victims.
Another item seized by investigators is a list of participants of The Second Mile, the children's charity Sandusky established in 1977, including their names and who's expected to testify. McGettigan called the Second Mile the "perfect environment for the predatory pedophile" and Sandusky's way to get close to his victims.
Six of the alleged victims had no father in their lives, McGettigan said.
Amendola said in his opening statement that Mike McQueary, the football team assistant who reported seeing Sandusky naked with a boy in a shower in 2001, was mistaken about what he saw.
"We don't think Michael McQueary lied," Amendola told jurors. "Are you surprised? We don't think that he lied. What we think is that he saw something and made assumptions."
The defense filed a motion Monday morning, asking permission to call a psychologist to testify about histrionic personality disorder, which is "a pervasive pattern of excessive emotionality and attention seeking," "often characterized by inappropriate sexually seductive or provocative behavior" and rapidly shifting emotions, according to the American Psychiatric Association's diagnostic manual.
Testimony from a psychologist could counter prosecutors' claims that Sandusky "groomed" the boys for sexual contact. The defense said the testimony is needed given the "highly prejudicial nature" of letters Sandusky wrote to some of the accusers.
Amendola also said at least six of the alleged victims have civil lawyers, including several in the courtroom gallery on Monday.
"It is rare, rare, absolutely, totally unusual for an alleged victim to have an attorney, aside from the commonwealth, representing them," Amendola said.
He said some maintained contact with Sandusky years after the alleged sexual abuse.
"These young men had a financial interest in this case and pursuing this case," Amendola said.
Sandusky faces 52 criminal counts that he sexually abused 10 boys over 15 years, allegations he has consistently denied. His arrest and the fallout led to departures of longtime football coach Joe Paterno, who died in February, and the university president.
A jury of seven women and five men were present during the first day of Sandusky's trial that is expected to at least last several weeks. Jerry Sandusky could be sentenced to more than 500 years in prison if convicted on all 52 criminal counts.
Judge John Cleland opted not to sequester the jury, saying he trusted the panel to avoid reading or watching reports about the case.
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