(CBS/AP) BELLEFONTE, Penn. - Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky has waived his preliminary hearing, a decision that moves him toward a trial on charges of child sex abuse and takes away the possibility that he would publicly face his accusers today.
It was reported at least some of the 10 young men he is accused of abusing were expected to testify in court today.
The unexpected move was announced as the hearing began Tuesday morning.
The ex-football coach faces more than 50 charges stemming from what authorities say were sexual assaults over 15 years on 10 in his home, Penn State property and elsewhere.
Sandusky, 67, has repeatedly denied the allegations.
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 trial in the case."
Donning a dark suit, Sandusky entered the courthouse through the back door, ignoring questions from reporters as around 50 members of the media awaited his arrival.
CBS Philadelphia reports that Jim Koval, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania court system, says he has never seen anything like the extraordinary preparation gone into this preliminary trial.
"It is unprecedented. Myself and those who work with me have never actually done anything like this," he said
Streets were closed off Monday night in preparation for the hearing, which Sheriff Denny Nau said amounted to the biggest spectacle of his two decades in office.
A little over two hours before the hearing was to start, the main square in front of the courthouse was flooded with TV camera crews filming morning reports. Photographers bundled up in winter hats and coats, waiting in cars parked with the heat running.
Sandusky's lawyer, Joseph Amendola, told the Associated Press Monday there have been no plea negotiations and that Sandusky was "looking forward" to the hearing.
Before news of today's hearing waive, Amendola had said he had wanted to lock witnesses into testimony and learn more details about the government's case. Amendola also said that he would not rule out the remote possibility that Sandusky might take the stand.
Though he did not stand before his accusers today, he has said repeatedly that he is innocent and has vowed to fight the case.