Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Sandusky Trial Day 3: Wondering Why?

On day 3 of the Sandusky trial the question "why?", has come up several times.

Media pundits were wondering why the prosecution isn't calling a Psychiatrist specializing in pedophiles to explain Sandusky's behavior.  Some people in social media were wondering why the victims didn't come forward sooner.  Finally defense attorney, Joe Amendola, questioned why Victim 7 wrote nice things about Sandusky in a Second Mile scholarship application; why Victim 10 returned to Second Mile camps after being abused and why Victim 5 changed the year of his abuse from 1998 to 2001.  

First off, I hesitate to call Sandusky a pedophile because that is a clinical definition and I'm not a clinician. Serial child sexual abuser serves the same purpose.  An "expert" in child sexual abuse could help, but could also be detrimental.  Sandusky's behavior was obvious grooming and that is very typical of most child sexual abusers.  However, if an expert is called to delineate that for the jury, they will also be asked questions from the defense like "Is grooming behavior present in 100 percent of sex abuse cases?"  " Is it possible that my client was just affectionate with his charges?"  These type of questions are used to foment doubt in that one juror they're trying to get to hang the jury.   Most jurors are smart enough that they don't need an expert to tell them that Sandusky was grooming, abusing and bribing victims.  

The defense continues to try to form a conspiracy theory around why the victims did not come forward sooner.  I've already commented on the emotional torture these victims go through but there are other reasons not to come forward.  According to their testimony, some of these young men were threatened. Victim 10, a foster child at the time of the abuse, said that he was threatened with never seeing his family again.  This is powerful and scary stuff to a young kid.  Especially a foster child.  Foster children pretty much feel like everything bad in their lives is their fault.  Pretty easy for someone as slick as Sandusky to prey on that.  Other victims have said, they wanted to keep going to games, they wanted to keep getting things, they didn't want to get in trouble etc.  

As to why he returned to camps after the abuse? At camp he was never really alone with Sandusky.  In his world, camp was a hell of a lot safer than Sandusky's car, house or office. Plus camps in general are fun. 11 or 12 year old kids seldom apply the logic of adults to their decision making. 

Victim 7 testified and was cross examined.  According to reporters in the court room, Amendola made "some headway" with his cross of Victim 7.  Victim 7 admitted that he wrote wrote "Jerry Sandusky, he has changed my perceptions on life in a positive way"; "Jerry Sandusky, he has changed my perceptions on life in a positive way"; and "Jerry Sandusky, he has helped me understand so much about myself. He is such a kind and caring gentleman and I will never ever forget him" on a scholarship application. 

This is not the bombshell it appears to be at first glance.  Child sexual abusers can display good qualities and be "nice" (a relative term) to children.  Its part of their game of grooming victims, be nice, play nice etc.  Victims can and frequently do compartmentalize their abuse.  Their abusive relationship is just one facet.  In their minds, the gifts, going to games, trips and the like are all too good to pass up.  Since this kid was applying for a scholarship, of course he's going to write nice things about a guy who in some way did help him.  

Victim 5's testimony was fairly brief.  The cross examination was short as well.  Amendola was concerned that Victim 5 changed the year of abuse from 1998 to 2001.  Victim 5 stated simply and I think truthfully that he matched up the calendar year with his school grade after testifying in the Grand Jury.  Again, nothing here that will derail the case.  

These first three days have been riveting.  I'm curious to see who the prosecution closes with.  They started with a strong witness.  My guess is that the final witness will be just as strong.  At the end of their case, the prosecution doesn't want anyone on the jury asking 'why?'

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