Jerry Sandusky trial set for closing arguments

Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky leaves the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa., June 20, 2012.
AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

(CBS/AP) BELLEFONTE, Pa. - Seven women and five men poised to hear closing arguments in Jerry Sandusky's child sexual abuse trial would begin jury deliberations without the benefit of having the former Penn State assistant football coach take the witness stand in his own defense.

More than a week of often-explicit testimony wrapped up Wednesday after Sandusky's defense team rested without calling their client. That set up closing arguments for Thursday morning, and jurors could start meeting behind closed doors in the afternoon to weigh Sandusky's fate.

Once famed for his coaching acumen, Sandusky is charged with 51 criminal counts for the alleged abuse of 10 boys over 15 years in hotels, at his home and in the football team's showers. Sandusky has maintained his innocence, and his attorneys have tried to weaken the prosecution's case by discrediting police investigators and suggesting that accusers are hoping to cash in on potential civil lawsuits.

"He's obviously concerned given the gravity of the charges, but he's weathering it well and he looks forward to a resolution," Sandusky's attorney Karl Rominger told CBS News after proceedings on Wednesday.

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Sandusky's arrest in November sparked an explosive scandal that led to the ousters of Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno and the university president, and cast a critical eye on the role of college administrators in reporting abuse allegations. The sweeping case also led to renewed focus on child abuse issues.

The defense called just four new witnesses Wednesday, including a physician who they used to try to poke holes in the story of a Penn State assistant coach who testified that he saw Sandusky sexually assault a boy in the team showers more than a decade ago.

Defense attorneys finished in three days, resting around lunchtime Wednesday only after a longer-than-expected recess during which Sandusky and his lawyers huddled in private amid rampant speculation in the courtroom that he would take the witness stand.

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Now, closing statements await the 12 jurors in a trial moving at a quick pace, more briskly than even the three-week time frame that Judge John Cleland had once estimated.

Cleland said he will begin Thursday by issuing jury instructions. The defense would then present its closing remarks before the prosecution takes its turn.

Then it's the jury that will determine the schedule depending on how long they take in deliberations. If convicted, the 68-year-old former defensive coordinator could be sent to state prison for the rest of his life.

Jurors will have to decide whether the defense was able to create sufficient doubt based on how the investigation was conducted, the reliability and motives of the accusers, and Sandusky's decades-long reputation as a man who worked tirelessly to help underprivileged children.

Prosecutors called 22 witnesses, including eight young men, ages 18 to 28, who alleged a range of abuse from grooming, kissing and massaging to fondling, oral sex and anal rape when they were boys.

Many of the 28 defense witnesses testified briefly to vouch for Sandusky's reputation. The defense's case has consisted of character witnesses who defended Sandusky's reputation, a psychologist who said Sandusky had a personality disorder and the ex-coach's wife, who said she did not see her husband do anything inappropriate with the accusers. His lawyers showed that an investigator had shared information with an accuser about other alleged victims' stories and repeatedly suggested that accusers have financial motivations for their claims.

Sandusky was only heard from via a November interview with NBC's Bob Costas, saying he probably shouldn't have showered with boys; and in letters he wrote to one of his accusers.