Lawyer: Sandusky case a "fight to the death"

BELLEFONTE, Pennsylvania - The lawyer for accused former college football coach Jerry Sandusky calls the surprise decision to waive a preliminary hearing a "tactical measure" to avoid a repeat of the child sex abuse allegations his client faces.

Joseph Amendola said the decision had nothing to do with "cowardice or gamesmanship" and that the defense was not conceding guilt.

"There will be no plea negotiations. This is a fight to the death," Amendola said.

He also said that having the allegations repeated "really would have left us with the worst of all worlds"

The decision to waive Tuesday's hearing moves Sandusky toward a trial on child sex-abuse charges. At least some of his 10 accusers had been expected to testify.

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CBS News senior legal analyst Andrew Cohen agreed that Sandusky's decision to waive the hearing was strategic.

"This makes sense for Sandusky because at the preliminary hearing he was not going to be allowed to call his own witnesses," Cohen told CBS Radio News. "It was going to be broadcast essentially via Twitter and social media to the world, and that was going to impact the potential jury pool, so I'm sure he realized that if you're going to make this fight you make it once at trial, where you can call your own witnesses."

Amendola said he believed some of the young men may have trumped up their claims and that others may came forward in a bid for monetary gain.

"We're pursuing a financial motivation," Amendola said, "Finances and money are great motivators."

Michael Boni, a lawyer representing an accuser known as Victim 1, said Amendola was "reaching into his bag of tricks."

"I can tell you that Victim No. 1 is credible. He was the first one to come forward," he said.

Sandusky told reporters as he left the courthouse that he would "stay the course" and fight the charges. He says the defense would present their side later. He remains under house arrest.

Sandusky is charged with more than 50 counts that accuse him of sexually abusing 10 boys over the span of 12 years.

Senior Deputy Attorney General E. Marc Costanzo said: "This development we believe provides maximum protection to most importantly the victims in this case. It avoids their having to testify for a second time. They will of course testify at a trial in the case."

Costanzo said the amount of publicity generated by Amendola made the move unexpected, but said the decision to waive was not unusual given the strength of the state's case.

There have been no discussions about a plea bargain, Costanzo said, echoing statements from Amendola. Sandusky's next court appearance, an arraignment, is scheduled for Jan. 11. He remains under house arrest.

The accusers who were prepared to testify were split in their reactions to the hearing being canceled.

Boni said he was encouraged that the accusers "do not have to relive the horrors they experience up on the witness stand" by having to testify at the hearing and at trial.

But Ben Andreozzi, a lawyer representing another accuser, read a statement from his client, who called it the most difficult time of his life.

"I can't believe they put us through this until the last second," the statement read. "I still will stand my ground, testify and speak the truth."

Another attorney for one of the accusers, Ken Suggs, called Sandusky a "coward" for not facing the young men.

Sandusky, in a dark suit, entered the county courthouse through the back door Tuesday morning with his wife, Dottie, at his side. About 50 members of the media and 10 local residents, a few of them waiting with cameras to take pictures, awaited his arrival.

Witnesses have contended before the grand jury that Sandusky committed a range of sexual offenses against boys as young as 10, assaulting them in hotel swimming pools, the basement of his home in State College and in the locker room showers at Penn State, where the 67-year-old former assistant football coach once built a national reputation as a defensive mastermind.

Sandusky has told NBC and The New York Times that his relationship to the boys who said he abused them was like that of an extended family. Sandusky characterized his experiences with the children as "precious times" and said the physical aspect of the relationships "just happened that way" and didn't involve abuse.

Sandusky retired from Penn State in 1999, a year after the first known abuse allegation reached police when a mother told investigators Sandusky had showered with her son during a visit to the Penn State football facilities. Accusations surfaced again in 2002, when graduate assistant Michael McQueary reported another alleged incident of abuse to Paterno and other university officials.

The grand jury probe began only in 2009, after a teen complained that Sandusky, then a volunteer coach at his high school, had abused him.

Sandusky first groomed him with gifts and trips in 2006 and 2007, then sexually assaulted him more than 20 times in 2008 through early 2009, the teen told the grand jury.

Sandusky founded The Second Mile, an organization to help struggling children, in 1977, and built it into a major charitable organization, headquartered in State College with offices in other parts of Pennsylvania.

Two university officials have been charged with perjury and failure to report suspected abuse — athletic director Tim Curley and former university vice president Gary Schultz. Their preliminary hearing is scheduled for Friday in Harrisburg.

Curley has been placed on leave and Schultz has returned to retirement in the wake of their arrests. The scandal brought down university president Graham Spanier and longtime coach Paterno, who was fired last month.

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