Jerry Sandusky Hearing: Judge To Consider Jury, Bail Issues
BY MARK SCOLFORO, The Associated Press
BELLEFONTE, Pa. -- Dueling requests to modify the bail conditions Friday for former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky are pitting neighbors' fears he's a danger to children against the defense claim the one-time assistant to Joe Paterno deserves to see his grandchildren.
Bail restrictions and the possible use of an out-of-county jury were among the issues presented to Judge John M. Cleland at Sandusky's pretrial hearing.
Both sides want to change the rules of Sandusky's house arrest. He is seeking permission to allow his 11 grandchildren to visit his home, accompanied by a parent, as well as to be allowed to communicate with them by phone or computer.
Prosecutors noted one daughter-in-law strongly objects to increased contact between her children and Sandusky.
"This home was not safe for children for 15 years, and it's not safe for children now," said state prosecutor Jonelle Eshbach.
Defense attorney Joesph 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.
The state attorney general's office has asked for tougher bail rules, arguing that the provisions of Sandusky's house arrest should be altered to require him to stay indoors after neighbors complained they've seen him on his back porch, watching children play in a nearby schoolyard.
An attorney general's office investigator, Anthony Sassano, testified that neighbors and school personnel expressed their concerns about Sandusky's presence on his back deck.
Sassano testified that Sandusky's presence had disrupted school activities in classrooms from which the former coach's home is visible.
One neighbor had used a video camera to document Sandusky's trips to his deck, Sassano said.
Amendola asked what was seen on the recordings, with Sassano responding that on one Sandusky is brushing his dog and on another he'd let the dog out to play. Amendola noted Sandusky is not allowed to give his dog standard walks because of his bail restrictions.
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.
Prosecutors have said the special position Penn State holds for people in Centre County would make it a challenge for jurors there to render a fair verdict. Sandusky, 68, wants a Centre County jury.
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.