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Jerry Sandusky Jurors Include Penn State Senior, Ex-Prof

Jerry Sandusky

First Posted: 06/06/2012 8:08 am Updated: 06/07/2012 7:20 pm

BELLEFONTE, Pa. -- A jury dominated by people with Penn State loyalties was selected Wednesday to decide Jerry Sandusky's fate in the child sexual abuse scandal that rocked the university and led to football coach Joe Paterno's downfall.

The seven women and five men who will hear opening statements on Monday include an engineering administrative assistant at Penn State, a dance teacher in the continuing education program and a professor who has been on the faculty for 24 years.

Also: a Penn State senior, a retired soil sciences professor with 37 years at the university, a man with bachelor's and master's degrees from the school and a woman who has been a season ticketholder since the 1970s.

Sandusky, a 68-year-old former assistant football coach, is charged with sexually abusing 10 boys over a 15-year span.

Picking the jury took less than two days, moving along more swiftly than some had expected, given that the rural area is rich with Penn State employees, alumni and fans, many of whom have strong opinions about the case. Bellefonte is 12 miles from Penn State's main campus in State College.

The judge, however, said Penn State connections would not automatically disqualify potential jurors as long as they could pledge to be impartial. Eight of the 12 jurors and two of the four alternates have ties to Penn State.

Some legal experts said jurors with Penn State connections might be inclined to come down hard on Sandusky, blaming him for Paterno's firing and the damage to the school's reputation. Or they might take their frustrations out on prosecutors for bringing the case in the first place.

St. Vincent College law professor Bruce Antkowiak said the Penn State factor could cut both ways.

"In one sense, you worry about, this guy was for many years of his life a hero of that community, an idol," Antkowiak said, referring to Sandusky's role as founder of an acclaimed charity for youngsters.

"On the other hand, there's also the consideration that there are people who believe this guy betrayed so much of what gave this institution and this area so much of the character and innocence that we love, that he has besmirched it in such a profound way."

On the list of potential witnesses, along with the young men who have accused Sandusky, are Paterno's widow and son and assistant coach Mike McQueary, who said he saw Sandusky naked in a team shower with a boy more than a decade ago and reported it to Paterno.

Paterno was fired in November for not acting more decisively against Sandusky. He died of lung cancer two months later at 85.

On Wednesday, defense attorney Joseph Amendola asked again for a delay in the trial, alleging that the judge's gag order was violated by an ABC report that said the accuser identified in court papers as Victim 4 would be the first witness. Judge John Cleland denied the request.

Amendola arrived with Sandusky at the courthouse in the morning and told reporters he was confident the nine jurors picked at that time would give them a "fair shake." Lead prosecutor Joseph McGettigan said: "So far, so good."

In court, Sandusky, who has acknowledged he showered with boys but says he never molested them, quietly leafed through a binder with plastic-covered pages. During a break, he turned to two media representatives and asked with a chuckle, "What did you guys do to deserve me?" and "How did you guys get stuck with this?"

Several prospective jurors showed up at the courthouse in clothing with Penn State logos. And the web of Penn State connections was evident when a group of 40 potential jurors was questioned Wednesday. Ten indicated they worked at the university. Nineteen indicated they or a close family member had volunteered or contributed financially to Penn State.

Fifteen said they knew someone on the prosecution's witness list, while 20 knew someone on Sandusky's defense list.

Juror No. 12 has been a professor at Penn State for more than two decades and worked on a committee with university president Graham Spanier, who was ousted in the wake of the scandal.

Jules Epstein, a criminal defense attorney and law professor at Widener University School of Law in Delaware, said the defense might try to use the Penn State-heavy jury to its advantage by calling people with strong ties to the university to vouch for Sandusky's character.

"If some of those witnesses are also respected in the Penn State community, you are subtly, softly making that link," he said.

Epstein said the defense would be wise to avoid trying to cast the trial as a vendetta against Penn State and Paterno. Jurors will probably see through that strategy, he said.

"I can see somebody saying, `This case isn't about Penn State. This is about a bunch of youngsters whose lives were ruined,'" Epstein said.

___

Associated Press writers Michael Rubinkam and Joe Mandak contributed to this report.

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  • Jerry Sandusky

    Following a three-year investigation, the former Penn State player and assistant coach was <a href="http://www.collegian.psu.edu/archive/2011/11/07/grand_jury_presentment_story.aspx" target="_hplink">indicted</a> on Nov. 4 on 40 counts of sexual crimes against male minors that occurred over the span of more than a decade -- the first alleged recorded incident of abuse <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2011/11/07/justice/pennsylvania-coach-abuse-timeline/?hpt=ju_c2" target="_hplink">dates back to 1994,</a> and Sandusky was first investigated in 1998.. The allegations have rocked Penn State's storied athletic program to its core, raising questions of who in the program knew what -- and how much -- when.

  • Mike McQueary

    <a href="http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/colleges/penn_state/133338298.html" target="_hplink">McQueary</a> was a graduate assistant at Penn State when he allegedly witnessed coach Jerry Sandusky sodomizing a 10-year-old boy in a locker room shower. Shocked by what he saw, he reported it to head coach Joe Paterno, who then told Athletic Director Tim Curley and senior vice president Gary Schultz. Ten days after McQueary saw the incident, Curley and Schutlz told him that they were not going to report it to police.

  • Joe Paterno

    The famed Nittany Lions coach was allegedly informed of Sandusky's actions in 2002, after which he reported them to Athletic Director Tim Curley. He claims that he did not know the full extent of Sandusky's actions. In a statement, Paterno said that "the fact that someone we thought we knew might have harmed young people to this extent is deeply troubling." Joe Paterno <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/22/joe-paterno-dead-ex-penn-state-football-coach-obit_n_1221946.html" target="_hplink">passed away from lung cancer </a>on Jan. 22, 2012.

  • Gary Schultz

    The Daily Collegian reports that Penn State senior vice president for finance and business <a href="http://www.collegian.psu.edu/" target="_hplink">Gary Schultz</a> was known for his family values. However, Schultz allegedly lied to authorities about what he knew in regards to Sandusky's actions, and may have been aware of them for years. He has since resigned from his job. A judge ruled in December that<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/16/tim-curley-gary-schultz-hearing-trial-penn-state_n_1154360.html" target="_hplink"> Schultz and Curley will be tried</a> on charges of lying to a grand jury.

  • Tim Curley

    Penn State's athletic director was informed of Sandusky's misdeeds as early as 2002, but maintains that he was not aware of their explicit nature. He has been charged with failure to report and has been put on administrative leave. He claims he is innocent. A judge ruled in December that<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/16/tim-curley-gary-schultz-hearing-trial-penn-state_n_1154360.html" target="_hplink">Gary Schultz and Curley will be tried</a> on charges of lying to a grand jury.

  • Graham Spanier

    Penn State President Spanier, left, recently wrote to the Penn State Daily Collegian that he believed he had the best job in American education. Now, students and alumni are <a href="http://www.collegian.psu.edu/archive/2011/11/07/Petition_to_fire_president_spanier.aspx" target="_hplink">calling for him to be fired</a> in the wake of horrific sexual abuse accusations against former coach Jerry Sandusky.

  • The Second Mile

    Sandusky's <a href="http://www.thesecondmile.org/" target="_hplink">charity,</a> founded in 1977, allowed him unfettered access to young boys under the guise of selflessness.

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