Jerry Sandusky’s defense team won two minor victories on Monday in the ongoing child sex abuse investigation involving the former Penn State assistant football coach.
Judge John Cleland ruled against the prosecution’s request that the upcoming trial — tentatively scheduled to begin May 14 — be moved outside of Centre County, where the university is located. Cleland also granted Sandusky’s request for permission to see his grandchildren while he continues to serve a home confinement order as part of his bail.
In a hearing on Friday, state prosecutor Jonelle Eshbach challenged Sandusky’s request, saying “This home was not safe for children for 15 years, and it’s not safe for children now.”
But Cleland’s ruling will allow Sandusky to have contact with most of his grandchildren, under the supervision of their parents.
In Friday’s hearing, the state attorney general’s office said Sandusky’s neighbors have complained about him watching children at a nearby school from his back porch. They asked Cleland to issue stricter limitations that would prevent Sandusky from leaving the inside of his home.
“No evidence was presented that at any time the defendant made any effort to contact any of the children by signaling or calling to them, or that he made any gestures directed toward them, or that he acted in any inappropriate way whatsoever,” Cleland wrote.
Cleland also ordered the attorney general’s office to disclose the ages of the alleged victims at the time when the crimes are said to have occurred. The judge told state prosecutors to determine the best way to release grand jury transcripts to the defense lawyers “on a schedule which balances the appropriate interests of maintaining the secrecy of the grand jury while still assuring the trial can proceed without unnecessary disruption.”
Sandusky faces 52 criminal counts for alleged sexual abuse of 10 boys over a 15-year period.
By opposing the relocation of the trial, Sandusky, 68, willingly forfeited his ability to appeal a conviction on the grounds of a biased jury. The prosecution has expressed concerns about the rampant media coverage of the case and the close ties of local residents to Penn State University.
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