Sandusky waives hearing, delays facing accusers

Updated at 11:32 a.m. ET

BELLEFONTE, Pa. - Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky opted against forcing his accusers to make their claims of child sex abuse in a packed courtroom Tuesday but then took his case to the courthouse steps as his lawyer assailed the credibility of the alleged victims and witnesses.

"There will be no plea negotiations," defense lawyer Joseph Amendola said. "This is a fight to the death."

After Amendola spoke, a lawyer for the accuser identified as Victim 4 read reporters a statement his client prepared after the hearing.

"This is the most difficult time of my life," attorney Ben Andreozzi read. "I can't put into words how unbearable this has been in my life."

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Waiving such a preliminary hearing is not unusual but it was unexpected in this case: Amendola repeatedly had said his client was looking forward to facing his accusers. Afterward, he called the cancellation a "tactical decision" to prevent the men from reiterating the same claims they made to the grand jury.

CBS News senior legal analyst Andrew Cohen said Sandusky had no reason to go ahead with Tuesday's hearing.

"This makes sense for Sandusky because at the preliminary hearing he was not going to be allowed to call his own witnesses," Cohen told CBS Radio News. "It was going to be broadcast essentially via Twitter and social media to the world, and that was going to impact the potential jury pool, so I'm sure he realized that if you're going to make this fight you make it once at trial, where you can call your own witnesses."

CBS News chief investigative correspondent Armen Keteyian reports that 11 witnesses were prepared to testify for the prosecution, including Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary, who has been placed on administrative leave.

Sandusky, in a dark suit, entered the county courthouse through the back door Tuesday morning with his wife, Dottie, at his side. About 50 members of the media and 10 local residents, a few of them waiting with cameras to take pictures, awaited his arrival.

Sandusky appeared thinner and pale when he entered the courtroom, CBS News investigative producer Pat Milton reports.

Lawyers for the alleged victims said some were relieved they would not have to make their claims in public before a trial, but others said they had steeled themselves to face Sandusky and were left disappointed.

"It would have been apparent from watching those boys and their demeanor that they were telling the truth," said Howard Janet, a lawyer for a boy whose mother contacted police in 1998 after her son allegedly showered with Sandusky.

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Sandusky has denied the allegations, which led to the departures of longtime Penn State football coach Joe Paterno and the university president. He is charged with more than 50 counts that accuse him of sexually abusing 10 boys over the span of 12 years.

Amendola said he believed some of the young men may have trumped up their claims and that others came forward in a bid to make money by suing Sandusky, Penn State and the charity Sandusky founded.

"We're pursuing a financial motivation," Amendola said. "Finances and money are great motivators."

Michael Boni, a lawyer representing an accuser known as Victim 1, said Amendola was "reaching into his bag of tricks."

"I can tell you that Victim No. 1 is credible. He was the first one to come forward," he said.

Sandusky told reporters as he left the courthouse that he would "stay the course, to fight for four quarters" and "wait for the opportunity to present our side."

His decision to waive the hearing is not unusual. At the hearings, prosecutors must show that they have probable cause to bring the case to trial. Prosecutors in this case were expected to meet that relatively low bar, in part because the case been through a grand jury.

Senior Deputy Attorney General E. Marc Costanzo said the move "provides maximum protection to most importantly the victims in this case."

"It avoids their having to testify for a second time," Costanzo said. "They will of course testify at a trial in the case."

Costanzo also said there had been no discussions about a plea bargain.

Sandusky also will waive his next court appearance, an arraignment, that had been scheduled for Jan. 11, Amendola said. He remains under house arrest.

The accusers who were prepared to testify were split in their reactions to the hearing being canceled.

Boni said he was encouraged that the accusers "do not have to relive the horrors they experience up on the witness stand" by having to testify at the hearing and at trial.

Ken Suggs, another attorney for one of the accusers, called Sandusky a "coward" for not facing the young men.

Witnesses have contended before the grand jury that Sandusky committed a range of sexual offenses against boys as young as 10, assaulting them in hotel swimming pools, the basement of his home in State College and in the locker room showers at Penn State, where the 67-year-old former assistant football coach once built a national reputation as a defensive mastermind.