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Posted at 09:55 AM ET, 06/18/2012

Jerry Sandusky trial: The sound of silence

[But first, golf talk. Webb Simpson? Really? I watched as much of the U.S. Open as possible the last few days, amid unfortunate stretches of working on stories, and I don’t remember him being a part of the story line. This isn’t good for golf when the dominant players don’t dominate and the nobodies win all the big tournaments. The last 15 majors have been won by 15 different people.

Bring back the old Tiger, the old Phil. Bring back Jack and Arnie and Gary.

(But come to think of it, Arnie never won a major after the 1964 Masters, which he won at the age of 34 — younger than Tiger. Palmer continued to be the most popular player for years. But he couldn’t win. Hate to say it, but what we’re witnessing is a transformation in Tiger Woods: He’s not catching Jack Nicklaus, he’s turning into Arnold Palmer.)]

I’m back in Bellefonte for the Sandusky trial. Here’s my Sandusky story that ran this morning. It echoes what we talked about on the blog last week. We’re in a cone of silence in the courtroom but I’ll file updates later in the day.

[FYI, Sandusky’s team filed a motion to dismiss a bunch of the charges on grounds of non-specificity — i.e., unclear dates, unclear age of victims, unclear jurisdiction of events hazily recalled, etc. Judge ruled against the defense.]

Excerpt:

BELLEFONTE, Pa. — Sound problems have plagued the Jerry Sandusky trial. The defense attorney struggles to hear witnesses over the throb of the ceiling fans. The judge, concerned, has urged members of the jury to tell him if they can’t hear.

But the trial, in which Sandusky faces 52 counts related to child sex abuse, has exposed deeper problems with communication. Lurking throughout this case is the sound of silence.

For years, according to testimony last week, people who had suspicions about Sandusky said nothing, or didn’t follow up, or convinced themselves that what they were seeing was harmless.

Joe Miller, a wrestling coach, testified that one night he stumbled upon Sandusky and a small boy lying face to face on a mat in a weight room. Sandusky quickly declared that they were practicing wrestling moves, Miller said. After telling Sandusky to turn out the lights and lock up, Miller had a moment of doubt, he said. But he reassured himself:

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

The prosecution presented its case last week, and the defense attorneys for the former Penn State assistant football coach are expected to have their turn starting Monday. But this trial in a vintage county courthouse is shaping up as more than simply a matter of one man’s guilt or innocence. There’s a shadow trial underway, because if the prosecution’s case is correct, many people and important institutions failed to keep Sandusky from preying on boys despite direct eyewitness evidence that he was a pedophile.

[continued...]

By  |  09:55 AM ET, 06/18/2012

 
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