Watch CBS News

Child Abuse Expert: Discrepancy In Investigators' Testimony Not Fatal

By Patrick Perion-

(Editor's Note: Patrick has been a child abuse investigator since 1994 and has interviewed thousands of children about child abuse, child sexual abuse and neglect. He will weigh in with his thoughts as a special contributor throughout the Jerry Sandusky Trial. Patrick is otherwise known as "Quad City Pat", a frequent caller to the Boers & Bernstein Show.)

(CBS) Tuesday marked the second day of defense witnesses.  It was a veritable clown car of Penn State sycophants, Sandusky's friends and mental health professionals.  That's apropos because Joe Amendola is a clown.

On the way to the court room Tuesday morning, Amendola was asked about Sandusky testifying.  His response: "Stay tuned. It's like a soap opera. If I tell you, it takes all the excitement out of it." When asked which soap opera, he said General Hospital, then quipped "All My Children."  In the midst of trying to keep his client from jail, in the midst of horrific tales of abuse, he chose to crack wise.  I spoke to a couple of defense attorney friends today and they were mortified.  There's a certain decorum to trials and clearly Amendola doesn't care.  In fact, his obsession with the limelight leads one to believe that he has histrionic personality disorder.

Speaking of mental health, two experts testified today with varying opinions on whether Sandusky has histrionic personality disorder.  In my limited experience with such things, I would tend to agree with the second expert, Dr. Sebastion O'Brien.  He did not seem to think Jerry was suffering from this disorder.  My personal belief is that Sandusky's more of a sociopath.  Charming, friendly seemingly able to have relationships with people.  Again as discussed before, his charm and friendliness helped him woo his conquests.

Three things really stood out today.  One was the tape from NBC in which Sandusky said, "I didn't go seeking out every young person for sexual needs."  Technically true, but damning.  The ones he did seek out were the weakest prey.  Kids he dealt with Second Mile who were not the poorest kids, or the kids with the least self esteem, would be too hard to corral.  They'd be the ones most likely to report him to authorities sooner.

The second big deal of the day was what was reported as "contradictory" testimony from the lead investigators.  While there was some discrepancy in the testimony, it was hardly fatal.  The defense tried to say that the investigators told the witnesses what to say because they mentioned on tape to Victim 4 that "other boys" had said the "same things".

I've interviewed thousands of kids.  When we do forensic interviews of child sexual abuse victims, it is occasionally necessary to tell the child that other people have come forward, other people have already told what happened.  When we are interviewing multiple victims of the same perpetrator, telling the child that other children have come forward, makes it easier for them to tell.  The idea is to get the kid talking to give a narrative of what happened.  I've used this technique with kids as young as three to get them talking.  Frankly, as an investigator, you use whatever you got.  I once got a kid talking because he thought I looked like John Goodman.

The only real problem I had with the investigation was that I would have preferred  that the victims had been interviewed 1-on-1 at a Children's Advocacy Center.  I realize that the victims are now adults, but giving a taped statement to one person in a safe place works for victims of all ages.

The final big item was the testimony of Dottie Sandusky.  I literally started humming "Stand by Your Man", when Dan Bernstein reported that she had taken the stand.  What's important for the prosecution is that she corroborated the victims' testimony that they had spent the night and that Sandusky had gone to "tuck them in" before bed.  Again like this entire defense, no one is refuting the testimony of the victims.

Apparently they are leaving that for Sandusky who testifies tomorrow.  I for one can't wait to hear what the bastard has to say.

Patrick is a 1990 graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport IA. He's been working in child welfare since 1988. Since 1994, he has been a child abuse investigator and has interviewed thousands of children about child abuse, child sexual abuse and neglect. He was certified in forensic interviewing of child sexual abuse victims in 1999 and received an advanced certification in 2001. He's also been a trainer of forensic interviewing for child welfare professionals and law enforcement officials. On a personal note, he out kicked his coverage in marrying his wife Nicole and he has two wonderful daughters. Follow Patrick on Twitter @QuadCityPat and read his blog. He is not a spokesperson for his employer and his opinions are his own.


View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.