BELLEFONTE, Pa. – Jerry Sandusky’s lawyers said Saturday they tried to quit at the start of jury selection in his child sex abuse trial because they weren’t given enough time to prepare, raising an argument on the trial’s speed that could become the thrust of an appeal.
A day after Sandusky’s conviction on 45 counts of child sex abuse, his lawyers said they felt too unprepared to adequately defend the former Penn State assistant football coach because of how quickly the case was brought to trial. Experts have said the seven months between Sandusky’s November arrest and trial was fast-paced by Pennsylvania standards.
“We told the trial court, the Superior Court and the Supreme Court we were not prepared to proceed to trial in June due to numerous issues, and we asked to withdraw from the case for those reasons,” attorney Joe Amendola told the Associated Press.
The issues included a scheduling conflict with a defense team member and the need to read a cache of documents produced by a lengthy grand jury investigation. Judge John Cleland denied their request.
The attorneys raised other issues that could be part of the future appeal, saying a mistrial was sought and denied over a repetition at trial of a brief part of a November interview Sandusky had with NBC’s Bob Costas.
The case is poised to move to an investigation of university officials’ role in reporting the charges; two ex-school administrators face trial on charges they didn’t properly report former assistant coach Mike McQueary’s account of suspected abuse by Sandusky in 2001.
Almost immediately after the verdict, Penn State President Rodney Erickson signaled an openness to quickly settle potential civil lawsuits arising from the convictions, saying the school “wants to provide a forum where the university can privately, expeditiously and fairly address the victims’ concerns and compensate them for claims.”
For now, the school is facing one lawsuit from an accuser, Travis Weaver, who was not among those represented in the criminal case against Sandusky.
Lawyers for McQueary, who testified against Sandusky, have signaled their intent to sue, along with a lawyer for one accuser, so-called Victim 5.
Jeff Anderson, who represents Weaver, said that he represents more victims of Sandusky’s and that he will ask the court to allow him to begin seeking information from Penn State in Weaver’s case.
The next step is to determine the extent of Penn State’s culpability, lawyers say. In part, that means finding out who in the university’s upper ranks knew Sandusky was preying on boys and could have stopped it.
The former Penn State officials facing charges, athletic director Tim Curley and retired vice president Gary Schultz, are charged with lying to a grand jury about what they knew of the 2001 incident in which McQueary said he saw Sandusky assaulting a boy in a football team shower.
A separate investigation by ex-FBI director Louis Freeh, who was hired by Penn State’s board of trustees to investigate the university’s handling of the Sandusky allegations, is due later this summer.