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Jerry Sandusky Trial: Jury now deliberating, prosecutor calls defense theory "ludicrous" in closing

Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky is greeted as he leaves his child sex abuse trial at the Centre County Courthouse on June 20, 2012 in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. Getty Images/Mark Wilson

What could possible closing arguments be in Sandusky trial?
Jerry Sandusky is greeted as he leaves his child sex abuse trial at the Centre County Courthouse on June 20, 2012 in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania.
Getty Images/Mark Wilson
(CBS) BELLEFONTE, Pa. - It has been just 10 days since the trial began, and the fate of Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant football coach accused of sexually abusing 10 boys over 15 years, is now in the hands of a jury.

Pictures: Child-sex scandal rocks Penn State

Before closing arguments began, Judge John Cleland gave his instructions to the jury, telling them that, "poor judgment does not in and of itself amount to criminality," and to consider "whether the witnesses have anything to gain or lose by the outcome of the case."

"It is not necessarily a crime for an adult to touch a child," said Judge Cleland. "For example, it is not a crime for a downhill skiing coach to grab a hold of a child's leg to grab hold of a child's leg to reduce their speed...It is a crime for a man to have oral sex with a boy or have the boy perform oral sex on him."

He continued: "Other forms of physical contact are more problematic. It is not necessarily a crime for a man to take a shower for a boy, to wash a boy's hair or rub a boy's shoulder."

The jury, he said, must "distinguish expression of familiar and family affection from and act of lust...If he did not act out of sexual desire then he did not commit a crime even if he did act with poor judgment."

After the judge issued his instructions, Sandusky's attorney, Joe Amendola, addressed the jury. He said the former coach is a victim of lawyers and accusers with financial motives and a legal system that thought he was guilty before he was even charged. He pointed out that the prosecution presented no physical evidence of the crimes he is accused of committing.

Amendola also argued that the fact that the prosecution presented no accusations of abuse that occurred before the late 1990s undermines the state's case: "Out of the blue, after all these years when Jerry is in his mid-50's he decides to become a pedophile. Does that make sense?"

Amendola, who spoke for more than an hour, discussed the testimony of Mike McQueary, the former PSU graduate assistant who allegedly witnessed Sandusky assaulting a boy in a university locker room shower. He said that McQueary "assumed" the sounds he heard were sexual, and that his testimony is undermined by the fact that neither he, nor his father nor a family friend who he said he related the incident to, called the police.

Even if Sandusky is acquitted, Amendola says his client's life has already been destroyed, as have the reputations of many, including former Penn State head football coach, Joe Paterno.

"All he wanted to do was help kids," said Amendola.

But prosecutor Joseph McGettigan told jurors a very different story, calling Sandusky a "serial predatory pedophile" and telling jurors that Amendola's assertion that his client is the victim of a conspiracy is "ludicrous."

"This conspiracy theory involves lots of people and time travel," he said.

McGettigan said that the fact that so many alleged victims stayed silent for years was because "they were not sophisticated" and Sandusky - who he called a "serial predatory pedophile" - was a person of great stature in the community. He accused Sandusky of "grooming" boys, and said he "had access to a pool of vulnerable victims."

The prosecutor referenced the November 2011 interview of Sandusky conducted by Bob Costas, saying, "Someone asks you if you are a criminal, a pedophile or a child molester or anything along those lines, your immediate response would be, No you are nuts? Not , 'Am I sexually attracted to young boys?'"

Sandusky is charged with 48 criminal counts involving the alleged sexual abuse of 10 boys. He could face life in prison if convicted.

Additional reporting by CBS News' Paula Reid in Bellefonte, Pa.

Complete coverage of the Jerry Sandusky trial on CBSNews.com

  • Crimesider Staff

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