PHILADELPHIA — Ex-Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky could face several accusers after a lawyer for one young man said his client and at least five others were planning to testify at a preliminary hearing next week.
The lawyer told The Associated Press he had information that the six young men who testified before a grand jury will be called to testify at next Tuesday’s scheduled preliminary hearing in Bellefonte.
The attorney spoke to AP on condition of anonymity because he is trying to ensure his client’s identity isn’t revealed publicly.
The revelation came Tuesday as another victim filed a complaint with state police alleging he was sexually abused by Sandusky, the man’s lawyer said. The now 19-year-old said he also met Sandusky through The Second Mile, a charity Sandusky founded in 1977 to help at-risk children, lawyer Charles Schmidt said.
Joseph Amendola, Sandusky’s lawyer, said he was not familiar with the allegations Schmidt was making.
Schmidt said the client, whom he did not identify, went to his law firm about three weeks ago, after Sandusky was charged with sexually abusing eight boys over a 15-year period.
“He suffered one incident of abuse, to use the legal term — involuntary deviate sexual intercourse — allegedly at the hands of Mr. Sandusky,” Schmidt said. “That occurred on the Penn State campus, we believe in the area of the football facilities.”
The existence of Schmidt’s client was first reported by WHP-TV in Harrisburg.
Schmidt told the AP that his client was 12 years old, dealing with the death of his mother and suffering emotional issues at the time of the campus incident. The lawyer said the two met through The Second Mile and his client claims Sandusky gave him liquor while in the office on campus. The grand jury report did not allege any instances of Sandusky giving boys alcohol.
Schmidt said his law firm is conducting its own investigation into the client’s claims.
“We hope to have it wrapped up within another week. We believe him to be credible,” Schmidt said. “Everything that we’ve been able to unearth since has corroborated what he told us, but we’ll continue to do our due diligence.”
Sandusky is charged with 40 counts of child sex abuse involving eight young boys, but it’s not clear if prosecutors know the identities of the last two victims. The preliminary hearing could last a day or more, since the defense has the right to cross-examine the state’s witnesses. The judge would then rule if there’s probable cause to uphold the charges.
Sandusky, 67, has denied being a pedophile and has vowed to fight the case. In interviews with NBC and The New York Times, he has said he showered and horsed around with boys but never sexually abused them.
Former sex-crimes prosecutor Richard DeSipio said prosecutors may have to call the six known accusers for the judge to uphold the 40 counts. Defense lawyers sometimes waive preliminary hearings if they are worried about publicity for their clients, but DeSipio said he is not surprised Amendola is demanding the hearing.
“This is their first and only opportunity before trial to actually see the witnesses... to hear their tone and demeanor, and to question them and see how they respond to questions, and also to flush out details,” said DeSipio, who is now a criminal defense lawyer in Philadelphia.
He expects more cross-examination than is typical at this stage, as Amendola tries to lock in the witnesses’ stories. Still, he said, “I doubt the defense lawyer is going to beat up on them.”
Defense lawyers can also call witnesses to testify at preliminary hearings, but seldom do.
“Our position would be that these people have to testify,” Amendola said in an interview. “And one isn’t sufficient, because you have eight separate incidents ... with eight separate alleged victims or accusers.”
Prosecutors could have also tried to “bypass” the preliminary hearing, as Philadelphia prosecutors did this year in a clergy-abuse case. They called the evidence detailed in a 124-page grand jury report sufficient to send the case to trial, and a judge agreed, over defense objections. That trial is set to start in March.
The state attorney general’s office would not comment Tuesday on their evidence or strategy.
“We’re not going to talk about specific testimony,” spokesman Nils Frederiksen said Tuesday. “We’ll be prepared to present as much as necessary to hold the case for trial.”
Prosecutors listed eight victims in the grand jury report, but didn’t know the identities of two of them when they issued the report Nov. 5. One of the two was a boy allegedly seen being sodomized by Sandusky in a Penn State football complex shower in 2002.
Their identities may have since surfaced, however, amid the intense attention the case has drawn.
Amendola has said he believes he knows the identity of the boy in the shower. He said the person dined with Sandusky this past summer and last month, in a visit to Amendola’s office, denied that Sandusky had abused him.
Amendola said he’s looking forward to questioning the prosecution witnesses — including any alleged victims.
The accusers would face not only Sandusky across the courtroom, but throngs of reporters and spectators expected at the courthouse in Bellefonte, about 10 miles from State College.
Assistant football coach Mike McQueary, who told the grand jury he saw the 2002 shower assault, could also be called to repeat that testimony.
McQueary’s account wasn’t immediately brought to the attention of authorities in 2002, even though high-level people at Penn State apparently knew about it.
In the wake of the scandal, the university last month fired coach Joe Paterno and accepted President Graham Spanier’s resignation.
Athletic Director Tim Curley has been placed on administrative leave, and Vice President Gary Schultz, who was in charge of the university’s police department, has stepped down. Schultz and Curley are charged with lying to the grand jury and failure to report to police. They maintain their innocence.
Meanwhile, Penn State president Rodney Erickson urged faculty members not to worry that school trustees would “whitewash” an internal investigation into the child sex-abuse allegations.
Trustees have appointed former FBI director Louis Freeh to lead the probe for a committee spearheaded by trustee Kenneth Frazier. Still, many faculty members voiced skepticism. Erickson said he would urge trustees to have the committee members meet with faculty.
Erickson also said afterward that the school’s share of bowl proceeds could now exceed $2 million. That is $500,000 more than initially estimated last week, when Erickson said that $1.5 million would go toward programs at the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
The additional $500,000 will now go toward helping to establish a multi-campus institute that would work in the treatment and prevention, as well as research into child abuse.
The first piece to the institute would be a Center for the Protection of Children to be based at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center, he said.
Erickson also faced withering criticism from faculty members worried that school trustees may “whitewash” its investigation into child sex-abuse allegations against former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.
Erickson pledged again that investigators would have unfettered access and cooperation from the school. Trustees have appointed former FBI director Louis Freeh to lead the probe for a committee spearheaded by trustee Kenneth Frazier. State Education Secretary Ronald Tomalis, also a trustee, is on the committee as well.
“The fact he is also involved in that committee should give us a lot of confidence that the will be no whitewash ... no sweeping under the rug ... This is something that we demand,” said Erickson, who welcomed the faculty’s opinions.