BELLEFONTE, Pa. -- Multiple witnesses for the state have described former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky as a deviant sex predator during the first week of his child molestation trial, setting the stage for the defense on Monday to begin chipping away at the prosecutors' case, according to a veteran attorney.
"The prosecution is trying a textbook case thus far, [but there are] seeds of doubt," Seattle lawyer and legal analyst Anne Bremner told The Huffington Post. Those seeds, Bremner said, include accusers' failing to report the alleged abuses when they happened, inconsistencies in witness statements, possible financial motives, the potential collaboration of witnesses, suggestive questioning, and the possible review of media reports.
"These are, in some cases, troubled kids who want to be millionaires," Bremner said. "These cases happened so long ago. The defense should call a suggestibility expert ... [accusers] nine and 10 came forward after the case broke [and] we have inconsistent grand jury testimony."
Sandusky, 68, faces 52 criminal counts related to the alleged assaults of 10 boys over a 15-year period. The allegations led to the ouster of the Penn State University president and longtime coach Joe Paterno, and prompted prosecutor Joseph McGettigan III to refer to Sandusky as a "serial predator." Sandusky maintains his innocence and his attorney has suggested his accusers may have ulterior motives.
Bremner is a former sex-crimes prosecutor and defense attorney in child abuse cases civilly and criminally. Her client won the largest settlement in history against the Seattle school district -- $5.2 million -- in a case involving a male pedophile. She also handled the Mary Kay LeTourneau civil case.
There have been false convictions in pedophile cases, evidenced by innocence projects nationwide, and the cases, in general, can be difficult to defend since the accused is typically presumed guilty by outsiders.
"[The prosecution] is doing an excellent job outlining grooming behaviors," Bremner said. "Pedophiles groom not only victims, but their families and potential witnesses as well. They are nice. [There is the assumption that] nice people can't be deviant or evil. They give gifts, share secrets and engage in an otherwise seemingly appropriate progression ... Grooming breaks down traditional boundaries, builds trust and fosters acceptance."
Many of the allegations made by various accusers in the Sandusky case have been similar. The alleged victims consistently have described receiving special gifts and access to sporting events, as well as lots of physical and emotional attention -- not all of which was welcomed. Some alleged victims have described a darker side to the ex-coach -- a predator who takes what he wants, and uses fear and threats to ensure their silence.
While the prosecution will encourage the jury to convict based on witness testimony, the defense will encourage it to acquit, using potential holes or flaws in that same testimony to its advantage. In the end, the jury of five men and seven women will deliberate to reach a verdict, but it is too soon to speculate on which way the jury may lean.
Never miss a thing. Sign up for up-to-the-minute breaking news alerts delivered straight to your inbox. Learn more