Sex abuse trial of ex-coach Sandusky heads to jury

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 16, 2012 3:07 PM
Sex abuse trial of ex-coach Sandusky heads to jury
(Note: explicit sexual content in 9th graph)By Ian SimpsonBELLEFONTE, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - The jury in the child sexual abuse trial of former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky starts deliberations on Thursday in a case that has captured national attention.The defense wrapped up its case on Wednesday after little more than two days of testimony without calling Sandusky, 68, to the stand despite a packed courtroom that had hoped to see him testify.Judge John Cleland told the jury of seven women and five men in Centre County Court to be ready to start deciding Sandusky's case after the defense and prosecution presented final arguments on Thursday. Jurors will be sequestered.The white-haired former assistant coach is charged with 51 counts of abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period, sometimes in Pennsylvania State University locker rooms. He faces more than 500 years in prison if convicted on all counts.More than a dozen defense witnesses vouched for Sandusky's character as a leading figure in the community. Daniel Filler, a law professor at Philadelphia's Drexel University, said the character testimony could be enough for the jury to deadlock on the charges."The best thing they (the defense) have going for them is the goodwill in the community," he said. "Their main goal is to hang the jury and argue for an acquittal."Sandusky's wife of 45 years, Dottie, testified for the defense on Tuesday that she had never seen him behave inappropriately with young boys.The defense also scored points by playing a tape recording of investigators' interview with an alleged victim in which they told the man about allegations from other accusers.Eight alleged victims, now aged 18 to 28, testified for the prosecution last week. They described in often-graphic detail about meeting Sandusky as boys through his charity, the Second Mile, and then being abused, including by groping, shared showers and oral and anal sex.Two alleged victims were never identified.The Sandusky case has focused renewed attention on the issue of child sexual abuse in the United States and prompted the firing in November of Penn State President Graham Spanier and head football coach Joe Paterno.Paterno, who won more games than any major college coach, died of lung cancer in January.Two university officials face charges of perjury and failure to report suspected abuse in the scandal.(Editing by Eric Walsh)