What's ahead in Jerry Sandusky sex abuse trial

(CBS News) Jury selection in the sex abuse trial of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky is scheduled to begin on Tuesday.

Sandusky is accused of 52 counts of sexual abuse of 10 boys over a 15-year-period.

If the once-revered coach is convicted of serial sexual abuse, it could land him in prison for life, reports CBS News Chief Investigative Correspondent Armen Keteyian.

Sandusky claims the allegations stem from a wildly wrongful reading of a playful man who mentored hundreds of young boys, Keteyian notes

(To watch Keteyian's report click on the video player above.)

And the jury's perception of the credibility of the witnesses - crucial in any case - will be at the center of this one, according to Keteyian and TruTV's Jean Casarez, a correspondent for "In Session."

Sandusky attorney Joe Amendola is expected to zero in on the accusers' credibility -- as many as eight could testify -- along with the credibility of former Penn State coach Mike McQueary.

McQueary claims he witnessed Sandusky sexually assault a boy as young as 10 years old in a football locker room shower.

McQueary originally testified the abuse took place in March of 2002; prosecutors recently moved the date to February 2001, potentially raising questions about McQueary's memory.

"This is very damaging to Mike McQueary's testimony," says Wes Oliver, a professor at Widener (Pa.) Law School, "because the jury's going to be asking itself, 'If Mike McQueary, who has no dog in this hunt, is making up a story, could these other witnesses be making up a story, as well?' I think the prosecution has to do a lot of soul-searching as to whether it puts Mike McQueary on as a witness at all."

But Casarez told "CBS This Morning: Saturday" co-hosts Anthony Mason and Rebecca Jarvis, "I know a lot of people have said they think (McQueary getting the date wrong) is critical, it's terrible. You know, I don't think it's as critical as people will think it is, because a lot of the alleged victims are not going to be specifically certain on different dates and different times."

The defense, she adds, is "going to attack the alleged victims. They're going to say, 'You're lying. You're here because you want publicity, you want money. You know this didn't happen.'

"Also, the defense has wanted phone records. And they're going to try to show that one alleged victim called the other one to try to (say), 'Hey, yeah, let's get our stories straight here.' That's what this trial is going to be on the side of the defense."

(To watch the complete interview with Casarez click on the video player below.)

But will the sheer number of accusers play in the prosecution's favor?

"Yes, exactly," Casarez replied. "When you have alleged victim after alleged victim corroborate one another because - you've got different settings (for the alleged crimes). You've got the basement of the Sandusky home, you've got the Penn State campus showers and the locker room, you've got trips, games. Yes, corroboration."

Jury selection is "going to be tough," she says, "because you're in State College (Pa.) You're right there where it all happened, where everybody has watched it. And so many people know Jerry Sandusky. I have spoken to so many people (who say), 'I know Jerry. I met him at a party. I can't believe it (happened as alleged).'

"So, I think (jury selection) may be difficult. But this is where Jerry Sandusky wants the trial. And he might be smart about that.

Comments

CBSN Live

pop-out
Live Video

Follow Us

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.

The Newsroom