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Posted at 08:15 PM ET, 06/12/2012

Jerry Sandusky trial: He still has believers

Another day of brutal testimony here in Bellefonte, with an early adjournment. I found myself wondering what Jerry Sandusky was thinking. He was being accused to his face of heinous crimes. We couldn’t see his face because we’re in the audience and he’s up front facing the judge and witnesses. But when it was all over today — after he’d heard an 18-year-old boy weepingly testify about multiple incidents of sexual abuse, and after Mike McQueary said he saw Sandusky sodomizing a boy in a locker room shower — the defendant spent a few minutes chatting with his friends and supporters.

He broke out in a broad grin a few times. He laughed a little. He seemed delighted to have his supporters there, people who still believe in him.
Sandusky in his heyday, 1999, with Paterno. (AP) (Paul Vathis - AP)

Here’s an excerpt from a story that Jenna Johnson and I have done that will go online shortly:

After Judge John Cleland adjourned for the day, Sandusky spent a few minutes chatting and laughing - breaking out in a big grin a few times -- with a small group of old friends and supporters.

“We still believe in Jerry,” said Joyce Porter, who said she’d been a friend for 40 years. Asked about the testimony, she said, “Some of them, they’ve been coached, don’t you think?”

Another friend of 45 years, Kathy Sulkowski, said of Sandusky, “There’s so many kids that he turned their lives around …I totally trust him.”

End of excerpt.

So he hasn’t been abandoned. I have heard that his wife was in the courtroom but haven’t seen her directly (because she’s on the witness list she may be sequestered during testimony but I need to check on that).

This is obviously a disturbing story and I sympathize with readers who may not want to introduce this material into their lives even if somewhat sanitized.

What keeps striking me is the theme of silence. Silence induced by shame, or embarassment, or the inability to imagine the worst. It’s the chronic silence of people not speaking up, of not following up, of not countenancing the possibilities. They didn’t think that an iconic coach, famous for helping kids through the charity he founded, could conceivably be abusing them.

One witness Tuesday, Joe Miller, is a wrestling coach. One night he noticed a light underneath a door, indicating that someone was in a weight room not usually used at that hour. He went in and found Sandusky and a small boy (the one we refer to in today’s story as Victim 1) lying on a mat, bodies close together, face to face. Sandusky popped up and said they were just practicing wrestling moves.

Miller said, “No problem,” and asked Sandusky to turn out the lights and lock the door when he left.

Driving away, he wondered why they didn’t practice in the wrestling room.

But then he reassured himself: “Well, it’s Jerry. Jerry Sandusky. He’s a saint. What he’s doing with these kids is fantastic.”

By  |  08:15 PM ET, 06/12/2012

 
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