Judge in Penn State abuse case OKs defense legal tactics

Reuters News
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Posted: May 03, 2012 3:53 PM
Judge in Penn State abuse case OKs defense legal tactics

(Reuters) - The judge overseeing the sexual abuse case against former Penn State University football coach Jerry Sandusky ruled on Thursday that his lawyers were within their rights to issue subpoenas to the police, a school district and the state's labor department, among others.

The judge's ruling came in response to complaints from prosecutors that Sandusky's legal team, headed by Joe Amendola, had embarked on a "fishing expedition" ahead of next month's trial. They asked that the judge rein in Amendola's use of subpoenas.

But Judge John Cleland ruled against prosecutors on Thursday, just hours after Sandusky's legal team filed documents defending their tactics on behalf of the former coach, who is accused of sexually abusing 10 boys between 1994 and 2008.

Amendola argued that some "very important" documents were withheld by prosecutors, including criminal records showing one of the accusers had been convicted of robbery. He also pointed to information "concerning false statements and allegations" by another of the accusers about an unknown adult male approaching him in his high school bathroom.

Amendola also struck back at complaints from prosecutors that a subpoena had revealed the name of one of the victims.

A grand jury indictment said Sandusky performed oral sex on the boy more than 20 times when he was 13 or 14 years old, had the victim perform oral sex on him and also touched the child's genitals.

Amendola wrote in the court documents that identifying the alleged victims by name in subpoenas was "absolutely necessary" for getting information critical to the defense.

Sandusky, 68, who has maintained his innocence, is under house arrest in the scandal that rocked the world of collegiate sports and led to the firing in November of Penn State's president Graham Spanier and legendary football coach Joe Paterno, who died of lung cancer in January.

(Reporting by Paul Thomasch; Additional reporting by Mark Shade; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)