Jerry Sandusky's attorney suggested today that state troopers "tainted" the sex abuse investigation into the former Penn State coach by prodding potential victims to say that sexual acts occurred between Sandusky and them and encouraged their confessions by saying that other young men had already described the abuse in detail.
Sandusky is in the final days of his defense. He is charged with 51 counts of sex abuse of 10 boys.
The jury of seven women and five men is expected to get the case later this week and Sandusky, 68, could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted.
Sandusky's wife Dottie, who is on the witness list, has arrived at the courthouse and is expected to be called to the stand today.
Joseph Amendola, Sandusky's lead defense attorney, asked two Pennsylvania state troopers whether the potential victims they interviewed at the beginning of the investigation ever said that nothing happened between them and Sandusky, and whether they later changed their stories to say that sexual abuse had occurred. Both investigators agreed that the men had changed their stories during the course of several interviews.
Amendola had shown while questioning accusers last week that many of their stories progressed throughout the investigation as they initially said that nothing sexual occurred with Sandusky, and later, upon further questioning from prosecutors, said that Sandusky had abused them.
Amendola suggested that Trooper Scott Rossman and Corporal Joseph Leiter had elicited some of those changes by encouraging the men to say they were abused.
He asked whether the investigators remembered telling Victim 4 during an early interview that "nine other kids" had come forward and some of them had told investigators that oral sex and rape had occurred, according to a transcript from the interview.
Rossman and Leiter denied that they shared with their interviewees specific information about the number of other accusers or sex acts that alleged victims had told them, but Amendola then read a transcript from an interview with the man being identified as Victim 4 aloud in the courtroom.
In the interview, Leiter said, "I want to let you know that you are not the only victim... I think there were nine. We interviewed about nine.... You are repeating word for word pretty much that others told us. We know there is a well-defined progression in the way he operated.. Progression goes on for an extended period of time... oral sex..."
Amendola played a tape from the interview in which Leiter and Rossman say they are going to pause the recording device to take a break. Rossman and Victim 4 leave to get sodas, and Leiter and Victim 4's attorney, Ben Andreozzi, remain in the interview room with the recording device accidentally still recording.
The two discuss other allegations from alleged victims in the case, and then Andreozzi asks Leiter to share those allegations with his client so that Victim 4 can feel more comfortable talking about what happened to him.
The defense called Andreozzi to the stand to testify about the meeting with Rossman and Leiter and confirmed that he at one point asked Leiter, "Can we at some point say to him, we've interviewed other kids, other kids have admitted, is there anything else you want to tell us?"
Andreozzi also testified that his main law practice is representing victims of crimes in civil cases, particularly sex abuse cases. He was contacted by Victim 4's father before Victim 4 was interviewed by police, Andreozzi said. Andreozzi would not say what financial arrangement he had with Victim 4, but said that he could stand to gain financially "five steps down the road" if Sandusky were found guilty in this criminal trial and Victim 4 brought a civil suit.
Part of Sandusky's defense is that at least some of the alleged victims are claiming abuse so they can sue later on.
Amendola then recalled the two investigators to the stand and asked them, one at a time, whether they had discussed their testimony with one another in the hallway in the intervening time. Rossman said they had not, while Leiter said they had.
He also asked the men whether they had turned off the tape recorder during interviews with other alleged victims and whether they were also told details of what other vcomplainants had said.
Both men said under cross-examination by prosecutor Joseph McGettigan that they had not told alleged victims what to say or to embellish their stories.
They told the prosecutor that it was difficult to get many of the alleged victims to discuss the abuse. One, Leiter said, "curled up in the fetal position at the end of his couch" during questioning.
Amendola also called to the witness stand a 25-year-old woman named Megan Rash, whose older brother, Ryan Dixon, was good friends with Victim 4 while growing up.
Rash testified that Victim 4 had a reputation for "dishonesty and embellishing stories." Dixon, whose name has name has been mentioned by accusers occasionally during the trial, died in 2008. Rash said that she and her brother were involved in the Second Mile, but Dixon was never taken on special outings with Sandusky.
The investigators were the first strong witnesses to be called for the defense, which has otherwise called a string of character witnesses who have testified that Sandusky had a "wonderful" and "amazing" reputation in the community.
Jerry Sandusky's Wife Dottie Expected to Testify Today
The character witnesses have included neighbors, friends, former players on Sandusky's college football team, and former members of the Second Mile who had spent time at Sandusky's house.
Amendola is still expected to call Sandusky's wife, Dottie, to testify about what she saw during their marriage together.
One alleged victim describes Dottie Sandusky nearly walking in on a sex assault and asking her husband, "What's going on in there?" Another said he was being raped in Sandusky's basement and yelling for help, but Dottie never answered.
Amendola also suggested during the first week of testimony that the defense would present an expert witness who would diagnose Sandusky's behavior as histrionic personality disorder, a condition which causes people to act out in attention-seeking ways, and use the disorder to help explain some of his overly affectionate behavior described by his accusers.
The judge, however, ruled last week that if Amendola were presenting an expert witness, the prosecution would also have the chance to present a psychologist who could explain Sandusky's behavior in other ways. Sandusky reportedly was evaluated by a prosecution psychologist on Sunday.
The courtroom in Centre County, Pa., has been packed full this week with members of the public who have come to hear the defense present its side of the story. Chairs have been added to the courtroom to make room for the additional spectators.
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