Sandusky could face accusers at preliminary hearing

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 13, 2011 12:48 AM
Sandusky could face accusers at preliminary hearing

By Mark Shade

BELLEFONTE, Pa (Reuters) - Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky could face some of his accusers for the first time on Tuesday at a preliminary hearing on 52 counts of child sexual abuse.

Sandusky, 67, has maintained his innocence on charges of molesting 10 boys. A celebrated football coach at Penn State, his arrest a month ago and the ensuing fallout have damaged the reputation of Penn State University 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 say Sandusky molested them.

Sandusky's attorney, Joe Amendola, told CBS News that his client was dreading the hearing.

"You can imagine, he's going to have to sit in a courtroom with a couple-hundred people -- I understand it's going to be filled to capacity, including members of his family and friends -- who are going to listen to some of these young men say horrific things occurred between them and Jerry," he said.

Sandusky appears to have already laid out his potential defense, saying in an interview with Bob Costas of NBC television last month that he engaged in horseplay but did not abuse anyone.

The court will not hear a plea of guilty or not guilty on Tuesday. That will come at a later arraignment.

Sandusky faces grand jury charges he molested the boys over a 15-year period and met them through The Second Mile, a charity he founded.

The scandal led to the firing of longtime Penn State coach Joe Paterno and President Graham Spanier, who were told about a 2002 incident involving Sandusky and a boy in a shower at a Penn State locker room and did not report it to police.

Former Penn State Athletic Director Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, a former top finance official, are charged with failure to report and perjury over the 2002 incident. They face a preliminary hearing on Friday.

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 has been set up. Members of the public must go through a lottery system to attend.

(Writing by Ian Simpson; Editing by Jerry Norton)