Sandusky prosecutors say defense abusing subpoena power

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 27, 2012 5:48 PM
Sandusky prosecutors say defense abusing subpoena power

By Mark Shade

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - Prosecutors in the child sex abuse case involving former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky charged in a court filing on Friday that Sandusky's lawyer was improperly using his subpoena power to seek information to which he was not entitled.

Sandusky, 68, faces 52 counts of abuse stemming from accusations he molested 10 boys between 1994 and 2008. The former coach, who has maintained his innocence, has been under house arrest since December.

Pennsylvania Assistant Attorney General Joseph McGettigan, in a motion filed in Centre County Court in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, said defense attorney Joe Amendola was barraging top officials in the case with generic subpoenas as part of a "fishing expedition" for information to defend Sandusky.

He asked the court to order Amendola to stop sending out the subpoenas and to require him to demonstrate to the court the need for any future subpoenas.

Legal sparring has intensified as the case moves closer to trial in June. The judge overseeing the case, John Cleland, recently issued a gag order to prevent attorneys, specifically Amendola, from talking about his defense in public.

Citing the gag order, Amendola said in an email to Reuters, "We feel it would be inappropriate for us to comment on the Commonwealth's Motion at this time other than to state we deny the allegations of improper use of subpoena power made by the Commonwealth in its Motion."

He added he planned to review the motion and file a response next week.

McGettigan said in his motion that Amendola sent subpoena forms to top officials involved in the case, including State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan and the university's police director, Steve Shelow.

"Defense counsel has exploited these forms, which carry the imprimatur of the county and the name of its president judge (Cleland) in an effort to circumvent this honorable court's rulings and those of the grand jury supervising judge," McGettigan said in the motion that will be decided by Cleland.

'VICTIM ONE'

McGettigan also said Amendola improperly revealed the identity of one of the alleged sexual assault victims, thus far identified only as Victim One, in his subpoena of Central Mountain School District Superintendent Kelly Hastings. Sandusky had volunteered in that district and Victim One reported Sandusky's alleged advances to state prosecutors.

"The Commonwealth need not underscore to this honorable court the spectacular irresponsibility of treating secret information in that fashion," McGettigan said in the motion.

McGettigan included a copy of the subpoena in his motion but redacted the name of Victim One, who has not been identified in media reports.

The prosecution motion added that Amendola in his subpoenas told officials that if they turned over the information he sought, they would not have to appear in the Bellefonte court on May 16 for a status hearing.

In proposing the deal, Amendola violated state law by trying to get material to which he is not entitled, McGettigan said.

Sandusky's indictment in November rocked the U.S. collegiate sports world, and led to the dismissal of Penn State President Graham Spanier and longtime head football coach Joe Paterno, who died of lung cancer in January.

(Editing By Barbara Goldberg and Peter Cooney)