The former Penn State assistant coach’s contention is that innocent behavior has been mischaracterized as abuse — or that allegations have been fabricated — by witnesses who may be hoping for a big payday in civil lawsuits against the defendant, the university and the Second Mile, the charity Sandusky founded to help troubled youths.
One defense witness Tuesday testified that his former neighbor, the mother of an alleged victim, said that, after suing Sandusky, “I’ll own his house.”
None of the day’s testimony, however, was obviously compelling enough to clear Sandusky of all the charges against him. The challenge for the defense team is that the prosecution has hit Sandusky with an all-out blitz of accusers — eight men who last week testified to various types of sex abuse by Sandusky when they were in their early teens or younger.
The witnesses have told stories that have common elements, of Sandusky establishing a father-figure role, followed by increased physical contact and then sexual assault.
It was a complicated, long day in court Tuesday with multiple story lines for the jurors to follow. Many have been taking notes to keep track of a case that involves 51 counts related to sex abuse of 10 boys, eight of whom are now adults. Sandusky has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
It is possible he will take the stand Wednesday. The defense team, which expects to be finished by midday Wednesday, started its presentation late Monday morning but put forth only about 100 minutes of testimony from character witnesses before the judge, citing non-specific technical problems, adjourned early.
That made Tuesday a busy day in court, with Dottie Sandusky’s appearance the dramatic highlight. She supported her husband unreservedly. She said she never knew of any inappropriate behavior by him toward any of the eight accusers. She spoke in a slightly quavering voice but remained composed throughout her 45 minutes on the stand.
Asked whether her basement — where witnesses said they were assaulted — is soundproof, she said no.
“How is your hearing?” defense attorney Joseph Amendola asked.
“I think it’s pretty good,” she said. “I hear lots of noises.”
She said her husband was often absent on trips and worked very long hours, even after he retired from Penn State in 1999 and devoted himself to the Second Mile charity.
“It was rough, it was rough, because Jerry, he was not around a lot,” she said.
She proffered negative assessments of the personalities of a couple of the accusers.