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Jerry Sandusky trial: “What if he is innocent?” his lawyer asks (updated)

View Photo Gallery: Jurors are expected to begin deliberating the fate of Jerry Sandusky today.

Updated at 1:20 p.m. with jury deliberations beginning

“What if he is innocent?”

Jerry Sandusky’s lawyer, Joe Amendola, asked that question as he raised the issues of reasonable doubt, the possibility of financial motivation by alleged victims and preconceived notions of guilt in his closing argument today in Sandusky’s trial on child sex-abuse charges.

Sandusky, 68, is accused of nearly 50 counts of child sex abuse from the 1990s, a fact that Amendola focused on this morning in the Bellefonte, Pa., courthouse. “When Jerry Sandusky is in his mid-50s he decides to become a pedophile?” Amendola said, via, in an emotional and occasionally angry presentation. “When this case has gone worldwide. With all this publicity, the earlier allegations are in the 1990s? ...

“For everyone to believe [these allegations], you’d have to believe he was the boldest perpetrator in history. ... Does he parade the kids around? He took them to trips, practices, football games. Is that what someone committing these horrible crimes does?”

During testimony, jurors often were shown photos of the alleged victims as children and Amendola urged them “don’t be fooled, don’t get tied up in the pictures.

“I’ll be the first one to tell you that if he did this he should rot in jail the rest of his life. But what if he is innocent?”

Earlier in the morning, Judge John Cleland dismissed three of the 51 charges of abuse and gave the jury legal guidelines for deliberation. A key part of deliberations, he told jurors, will be gauging the credibility of the alleged victims and Sandusky’s intent.

“Poor judgment does not in and of itself amount to criminality,” Cleland said. The jury must consider whether there was sexual intent by Sandusky as he allegedly had physical contact with young boys. “It is the defendant’s intent, not the child’s reaction, that determines if a crime was committed,” Cleland said.

Early this afternoon, jurors began their deliberations.

Follow us: @CindyBoren | @MattBrooksWP

More coverage

Penn State coaches say showers with boys were routine, harmless

Week 1: The real trial and the shadow trial

The original grand jury report

A second grand jury presentment

Timeline: How the scandal unfolded

Early LeadSandusky’s wife says her husband is innocent

Early Lead: Sandusky tells Bob Costas he showered with boys but denies abuse

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