Former Penn State assistant Jerry Sandusky finally appears in court Tuesday, and as colleague Lester Munson writes, it will be no ordinary preliminary hearing.
The national media attention on the Penn State sex-abuse scandal and the graphic allegations made against Sandusky make it a unique case, but so does a Pennsylvania law that entitles Sandusky to face all of his accusers very early in the legal process.
In what is likely to be an ordeal for Sandusky's alleged victims, they will be compelled to tell their stories for a second time in front of an audience. The first came when they testified before the grand jury in Harrisburg; a third will come if visiting Judge Robert E. Scott decides at the conclusion of the hearing to hold Sandusky for trial on the charges -- the most likely outcome. ...
How will the accusers act when they find themselves in a courtroom only two or three yards from Sandusky? How will Sandusky react as he listens to their allegations? Will Sandusky's attorney, Joseph Amendola, be aggressive in his cross-examinations of the accusers in an attempt to rehabilitate Sandusky's shredded reputation? Under Pennsylvania law, he cannot attack their veracity. But he could attack with questions that use parts of their stories to establish a scenario of innocence. He could question them, for example, about games and horseplay that imply innocence.
In most states, the victim/accusers are spared this ordeal. A typical preliminary hearing is based on testimony from an investigating police officer who summarizes the investigation and the findings. The investigator is permitted to describe what the victims said instead of presenting direct testimony from the victims themselves.
It should be a dramatic and emotion-charged day in central Pennsylvania. ESPN will have coverage of the hearing throughout.