Also on the list of potential witnesses is Sandusky’s wife, Dottie. Paterno’s widow and son also were on the list, to their surprise. They released a statement Thursday saying, in part: “The only directive Joe Paterno gave to his family is that they should pursue the truth, while forcefully defending the honor and integrity of Penn State and the countless thousands of students, faculty, coaches and donors who have worked so hard over the years to build it into a world class institution.”
The team of prosecutors is led by Joseph E. McGettigan III, the senior state deputy attorney general, who is known for being aggressive and passionate in the courtroom — and for nearly always wearing black sunglasses. In 1997, McGettigan was the lead prosecutor in the case against John E. du Pont, the millionaire heir to the chemical fortune who was convicted of murdering an Olympic wrestler.
McGettigan and his fellow prosecutors are expected to paint Sandusky as a calculating predator who befriended young boys searching for a role model, persuaded the protectors of those boys to trust him and then abused the children in horrific ways while others ignored the warning signs.
The defense is led by Joseph Amendola, a State College lawyer who loves to talk and has a history degree from Penn State and a law degree from Georgetown University. His office is in a small Southwestern-style building on the edge of State College that looks as if it belongs in a desert, not in the lush business complex across the highway from a weathered red barn and rolling farm fields.
Although the attorneys are familiar faces in the State College area, the judge is an outsider. Cleland is a senior judge from McKean County up north, which he calls “the icebox of Pennsylvania.”
Bellefonte is already feeling the crush of the media circus. The town is historic, with Victorian bed-and-breakfasts and boutique shops. The atmosphere has gotten a sudden update with the presence of satellite trucks and reporters who have set up temporary newsrooms in a Dairy Queen with free wireless Internet access.
Whether local jurors will be more sympathetic to Sandusky or more hostile — because of what the allegations have done to the university’s reputation — is a matter of pretrial debate.
“We always held Penn State up because it was perfect. And it took just one person to ruin that,” said Jeff Holter, 55, a Penn State graduate and education consultant who reported for jury duty Wednesday but was not selected.
At the courthouse, Holter ran into one of his elementary school teachers, his 23-year-old niece, his oldest daughter’s best friend and a number of other acquaintances.
“You can’t help but form some sort of opinion. . . . Most people I talk to say they want to see him put away forever,” Holter said.
“In many ways, in public opinion, Jerry Sandusky is already guilty,” said Paloma Frumento, 24, who recently graduated and was called for jury selection but not picked. “But that’s public opinion. There are facts. There’s the law.”