BELLEFONTE, Pa. -- The attorneys arguing the child sexual abuse trial of former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky have four days to figure out how to sway a jury heavy with connections to the school.
Seven women and five men will hear opening statements Monday in the sweeping case that rocked the university and led to the ouster of Hall of Fame football coach Joe Paterno.
Four alternates also were chosen Wednesday after jury selection wrapped up in less than two days, a much brisker pace than some observers had expected given the school's deep roots in this mainly rural part of central Pennsylvania.
But Judge John Cleland had insisted from the start that such connections wouldn't immediately rule out potential jurors so long as they could pledge to be impartial. Among the 16 jurors total selected, 10 had some tie – either directly or indirectly – to Penn State.
One juror, a woman, is a professor who has taught for 24 years. Another woman has had football season tickets for decades. And one of the male jurors is a student who will be a senior this fall.
Some legal experts said jurors with school connections might be inclined to come down hard on Sandusky, blaming him for Paterno's firing and the damage to the school's reputation.
"From the prosecution's perspective, putting people on the jury with Penn State ties, their assessment might be these people might tend to disfavor Jerry Sandusky and the defense because he's responsible for dragging Penn State's name through the mud," said Chris Capozzi, a defense attorney in Pittsburgh and a former senior deputy attorney general under now-Gov. Tom Corbett.
Capozzi, a Penn State graduate, left the attorney general's office in 2010. The state grand jury investigation of Sandusky began while Corbett was attorney general.
Conversely, Capozzi said, Sandusky's defense lawyers appear satisfied those jurors can be fair and impartial, or that "people are going to be upset with the Office of the Attorney General and the way (the case) was handled ... and it's really the AG that's responsible for putting Penn State's name through the mud."
Role: Former assistant football coach and founder of The Second Mile charity for children, accused of molesting boys over a 15-year period. Background: Arrested in November after a long investigation by a statewide grand jury. He had been a very successful defensive coach for the Nittany Lions for 30 years, and prosecutors say he used his fame in the community to attract victims. Charges: Involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, indecent assault of a young child, unlawful contact with minors, corruption of minors, endangering the welfare of children. Status: Awaits trial, with jury selection scheduled for Tuesday.
Role: Married to Jerry Sandusky. Background: Dottie Sandusky has stood by her husband, posting his bail, accompanying him to court proceedings and issuing a statement in December that proclaimed his innocence and said accusers were making up stories. She is not charged.
Role: Penn State athletic director, on leave while he fights criminal charges for actions related to the Sandusky scandal. Background: Curley fielded a complaint about Sandusky in a team shower with a boy in early 2001, and told a grand jury he instructed Sandusky not to be inside Penn State athletic facilities with any young people. Charges: Failure to properly report suspected child abuse and perjury for lying to the grand jury. He's not on trial with Sandusky, denies the allegations and is seeking to have the charges dismissed.
Role: Penn State vice president for business and finance, now retired. Background: Schultz told the grand jury that head coach Joe Paterno and assistant Mike McQueary reported the 2001 shower incident "in a very general way" but did not provide details. Charges: Failure to properly report suspected child abuse and perjury for lying to the grand jury. He's not on trial with Sandusky, denies the allegations and is seeking to have the charges dismissed.
Role: Assistant Penn State football coach. Was a graduate assistant in 2001, when he says he witnessed Jerry Sandusky and a boy naked together in a team shower. McQueary took his complaint to Paterno, who alerted university administrators. Background: McQueary testified at a court hearing in December that he "believed Jerry was sexually molesting" the boy and "having some type of intercourse with him."
Role: Defense attorney for Jerry Sandusky. Background: Amendola has been second-guessed for allowing Sandusky to go on network television and speak at length with a reporter for The New York Times after his arrest. Has won several legal battles for Sandusky, including getting him released on bail and fighting the prosecution's effort to have the case heard by a jury from outside the State College area. His office is in State College.
Role: Another defense attorney for Jerry Sandusky. Background: Rominger suggested in media interviews that Sandusky might have been teaching "basic hygiene skills" to some of the youths, such as how to put soap on their bodies. His office is in Carlisle.
Role: Lead prosecutor. Background: McGettigan, currently senior deputy attorney general, is a veteran prosecutor with stints in the Philadelphia and Delaware County district attorneys' offices and the U.S. attorney's office. McGettigan prosecuted John du Pont, the chemical fortune heir who killed an Olympic gold medal-winning wrestler at his palatial estate in 1996. He's known as an aggressive, feisty lawyer.
Role: Judge presiding over Sandusky's trial. Background: Cleland is a semi-retired senior judge from McKean County in western Pennsylvania. Known as courteous and fair-minded, Cleland previously chaired a state panel that investigated a nationally reported scandal in Luzerne County involving the trading of juvenile-detention suspects for cash.
Role: The longtime football coach was told by McQueary in 2001 that he saw Sandusky and Victim No. 2 in a shower on the Penn State campus and, in turn, told Curley and Schultz. Background: The head coach at Penn State from 1966 through 2011, and major college football's winningest, he offered to resign at the end of the 2011 season amid the uproar after Sandusky's arrest Nov. 6. The Penn State Board of Trustees, however, ousted him for what was called his "failure of leadership" surrounding allegations about Sandusky. He died of lung cancer Jan. 22.
Role: Married to Paterno for almost 50 years, she raised five children with him and passionately defended her husband during the scandal and after he died. It's unclear whether she might testify.
Role: Now the governor of Pennsylvania, he was attorney general when the investigation into Sandusky was launched by state prosecutors. Background: Corbett is an ex-officio member of the Penn State Board of Trustees, although he did not actively participate until after Sandusky was charged in December.
Role: Pennsylvania attorney general, whose office is prosecuting Sandusky. Background: A career prosecutor in the Pittsburgh area, Kelly inherited the Sandusky probe from Corbett when she was confirmed as his temporary successor as attorney general. She leaves office in January.
Role: Pennsylvania State Police commissioner. Background: Noonan garnered national attention two days after Sandusky's arrest when he criticized Paterno, a Penn State and sports icon, for failing his "moral responsibility" to do more when McQueary told him of the 2001 shower incident.
Role: Former CEO of The Second Mile, the charity Jerry Sandusky founded. Background: Raykovitz led the charity for almost 30 years and was a longtime friend of Sandusky's. Raykovitz testified before the grand jury that recommended indicting Sandusky on child abuse charges. He resigned from The Second Mile soon after the scandal broke, and board members later complained that Raykovitz hadn't told them enough about earlier allegations against Sandusky.
Sandusky, 68, is charged with sexually abusing 10 boys over a 15-year span. He has denied the allegations.
"In one sense, you worry about, this guy was for many years of his life a hero of that community, an idol," said St. Vincent College law professor Bruce Antkowiak, 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," Antkowiak added.
Other jurors with ties to the school include a man whose father worked at Penn State's Office of Physical Plant for three decades and a woman who works as an administrative assistant at the university.
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.
The head coach testified to relaying the allegation to his superiors, fulfilling his legal obligation. He was ousted in November by school trustees in part for not acting more decisively against Sandusky.
Paterno died of lung cancer two months later at 85.
On Wednesday, defense attorney Joseph Amendola asked again for a delay after alleging that the judge's gag order was violated by an ABC News report that said the accuser identified in court papers as Victim 4 would be the first witness. Cleland denied the request.
The day began with Amendola – arriving with Sandusky in the morning – telling reporters he was confident the nine jurors picked as of the start of Wednesday would give them a "fair shake."
During a midday break in jury selection, lead prosecutor Joseph McGettigan said: "So far, so good."
In court, Sandusky quietly leafed through a binder with plastic-covered pages. During another 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 again when a group of 40 potential jurors were questioned early 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.
Robert Del Greco, a criminal defense attorney in Pittsburgh, and member of the Criminal Litigation Section council of the Allegheny County Bar Association, wasn't surprised by the connections to Penn State on the jury. He called the trial the biggest event in Centre County since the Nittany Lions' 1986 national title.
What mattered, Del Greco said, was that jurors pledged to be impartial for a trial expected to last about three weeks.
"This jury has been seated with breakneck speed. I'm impressed and surprised with the expeditious manner with which it occurred. I think it speaks (favorably) of Cleland and the lawyers involved," Del Greco said. "If that is a harbinger of things to come ... we'll have a verdict within weeks (rather) than months."
Associated Press writers Michael Rubinkam and Joe Mandak contributed to this report.