Monday, February 13, 2012

Penn State Scandal Update

(Alex Brandon/AP Photo)
(AP - edited) Former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky's requests for greater freedom of movement -- and visits from his young grandchildren -- while he awaits trial on child sex-abuse charges were taken under advisement by a judge Friday, but prosecutors countered that Sandusky's home is not a safe place for children.

Judge John Cleland set a tentative trial date of May 14 for Sandusky and promised to rule quickly on a number of other issues, including dueling requests for changes to his bail restrictions.

The attorney general's office wants Sandusky confined to the inside of his home while on house arrest awaiting trial, while the defense asked that he be allowed out occasionally to help with the case.

Defense attorney Joe Amendola's request that Sandusky, 68, be permitted to see his grandchildren drew strenuous opposition from prosecutors.

Prosecutors noted that one daughter-in-law strongly objects to increased contact between her children and Sandusky.

Amendola presented the court with letters from Sandusky's children, and notes and drawings from his grandchildren, expressing their desire for increased contact. He also noted a court-appointed guardian for grandchildren who are part of a custody dispute found no reason Sandusky couldn't see them.
Prosecutors have also requested an out-of-county jury to hear Sandusky's case, given the widespread media attention and close ties many in Centre County have to Penn State.

Cleland asked to hear directly from Sandusky about his attorney's opposition to that request.

Cleland could try to pick a local jury and see whether prosecution concerns are valid about the pervasive publicity and local ties to Penn State and The Second Mile, a charity for at-risk children that Sandusky founded, based in nearby State College.

Sandusky faces 52 criminal counts for alleged sexual misconduct involving boys over 15 years, actions that police and prosecutors say have included violent sexual assault inside the Penn State football team facilities. He has denied the allegations.

The scandal led the Penn State trustees to push out university president Graham Spanier and football coach Joe Paterno, who died last month.

Two Penn State administrators are awaiting trial on charges they lied to a grand jury investigating Sandusky and failed to properly report suspected child abuse. Gary Schultz, a former vice president, and Tim Curley, the athletic director, have both denied the allegations.

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