Judge eases media rules for Penn state coach hearing

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 12, 2011 7:58 PM
Judge eases media rules for Penn state coach hearing

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - A Pennsylvania judge eased courtroom rules on Monday for reporters covering a preliminary hearing for Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant coach accused of sexually abusing boys.

Senior Common Pleas Court Judge John M. Cleland in Centre County ruled that neither tweeting nor transmission of a reporter's account of the events in the courtroom were covered by a rule that prohibits transmissions from the courtroom.

His ruling will now allow reporters to email, send text messages and tweet from laptop computers and handheld devices during the preliminary hearing scheduled on Tuesday.

But he also ruled that no audio or photographic record whatsoever may be made of the hearing or transmitted at any time from any location.

Neither prosecutors not defense counsel appeared or asked to speak at a hearing Monday at which the issue was addressed.

Sandusky, 67, has maintained his innocence on 52 counts of sexually molesting 10 boys over more than a decade.

A long-time assistant to Hall of Fame football coach Joe Paterno at Penn State, his arrest a month ago and the ensuing fallout have damaged the reputation of the university, shaken college athletics and focused national attention on the problem of child abuse.

Tuesday's hearing will determine whether there is enough evidence to hold him for trial. The trial itself could take place in six to 18 months, a normal time period for such cases, legal experts have said.

Court records show that six witnesses have been subpoenaed for the hearing. Legal experts said some of those likely would be young men who allege Sandusky molested them.

So many media representatives have applied to attend the hearing in Bellefonte, about 10 miles northeast of State College, Penn State's main campus, that a special credentialing system was set up. Members of the public must go through a lottery system to attend.

(Reporting by Dave Warner; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Peter Bohan)