Sandusky set to face accusers at hearing

Jerry and Dottie Sandusky in December Rob Carr/Getty Images

BELLEFONTE, Pa. - The stunning allegations that a beloved icon of Penn State's football team has secretly been a serial molester who used his charity for children to find and groom new victims will undergo their first legal test Tuesday inside a picturesque rural Pennsylvania courthouse. There, prosecutors will try to prove they have enough evidence to advance the case to county court for trial.

Ex-assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky faces more than 50 charges stemming from what authorities say were sexual assaults over 15 years on 10 boys in his home, on Penn State property and elsewhere.

He arrived at the courthouse with his wife early Tuesday to face his accusers in the child sex-abuse case against him.

Sandusky, 67, has said repeatedly that he is innocent and has vowed to fight the case. In interviews with NBC and The New York Times, he said he showered and horsed around with boys but never sexually abused them.

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The scandal has provoked strong criticism that Penn State officials didn't do enough to stop Sandusky, and prompted the departures of Hall of Fame football coach Joe Paterno and the school's longtime president, Graham Spanier.

Sandusky, in a dark suit, entered the back door of the county courthouse Tuesday with his wife, Dottie, at his side. He looked straight ahead, ignoring questions from reporters. Defense attorney Joseph Amendola followed him into the courthouse.

The hearing was expected to last a day or more, and will end with the district judge — a veteran jurist brought in from across the state — deciding whether the charges meet the relatively low standard under Pennsylvania law to advance the case to trial. Sandusky has denied the allegations against him.

CBS News chief investigative correspondent Armen Keteyian reports at least five of the 10 alleged victims of sexual abuse by Sandusky will likely testify during the hearing. One of those victims - identified as Victim No. 6 in the grand jury report - will be questioned about a shower incident with Sandusky that sparked an investigation in 1998, says Keteyian.

"Can anyone ever be ready to testify in a public setting when the subject matter involves something like sexual abuse? He's as ready as anyone can be," Howard Janet, who represents Victim No. 6, told CBS News.

Sandusky has the right to waive his preliminary hearing, and defendants often do, but his lawyer Joseph Amendola has said he wants to lock witnesses into testimony and learn more details about the government's case against his client.

Amendola said Monday Sandusky was "looking forward to the opportunity to face his accusers" and would not rule out the very remote possibility that Sandusky might take the stand. He said there have been no talks with prosecutors about a potential plea deal.

However, speaking to CBS News on Monday, Amendola said his client was "dreading" the ordeal.

"He's not looking forward to it. His wife's not looking forward to it. His kids aren't looking forward to it. But it's an important part of the process because Jerry maintains he's innocent," said the lawyer.

A lawyer for one of the teenagers scheduled to testify bristled at Sandusky's description of the encounters as child's play, or "horsing around."

"My client said, `There's nothing fun about what happened with me,"' Slade McLaughlin said last week, adding that he believes the Penn State scandal has unleashed "a watershed moment" in the understanding of child sexual abuse.

As Penn State's longtime defensive coordinator, Sandusky was the one-time heir apparent to Paterno until Sandusky unexpectedly retired in 1999.

Sandusky is free on bail, but is subject to electronic monitoring and the equivalent of house arrest. He also can have no contact with victims or witnesses and have no unsupervised contact with minors.

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