Wednesday, the defense in the Jerry Sandusky trial rested its case without having Sandusky take the stand in his own defense. This perplexed some, outraged others and caused an endless stream of columns today. As SCORE colleague, Dan Bernstein, wrote earlier, if you're planning your defense around a hail mary strategy. You let the guy testify.
There are several possible reasons for Sandusky sitting this one out. First let me say, that not having him testify completely defuses the argument that he has Histrionic Personality Disorder. A man with this disorder is someone who loves to be the center of attention. He tells his attorney "I'm testifying", period.
I've sat through dozens of trials of child sexual abusers, child murderers and child batterers. There are no two alike. I've seen cases in which the prosecution has a mountain of evidence, the defendant testifies, and is later acquitted. I've seen cases where the defendant is ripped to shreds on the stand and is found guilty. Trials in which the defendant doesn't testify happen all the time. It can be disappointing but it's been common in the sexual abuse trials that I have been involved in.
In Sandusky's case, Jerry may just not be capable of testifying without sounding pathetic and creepy. Attorney's spend hours upon hours prepping witnesses. In a trial about allegations this horrible, the defense certainly does not want Sandusky to sound as creepy on the stand as he did in the already played tapes from NBC.
It's also entirely possible that Joe Amendola and Karl Rominger think that they've proved their case. That these boys are making it up for money, that Mike McQueary was mistaken and not credible, that Jerry really is just a great guy who wants to help kids.
I think they're deluded. Even their defense character witnesses helped the prosecution. A 21 year old, David Hilton testified that spent many nights at Sandusky's home and was never molested. He also testified that he spoke to police and prosecutors several times and was always told to just tell the truth and don't make anything up. This completely destroys the case that the other boys made it up and were coached by police to embellish the abuse.
Their assault on McQueary's credibility really didn't accomplish anything either. It did raise a question as to why he didn't report this to someone besides Joe Paterno. Simply put mandated reporting only covers people who are directly working with children in a professional capacity. If McQueary was a coach of high school kids, he'd be required to call. Other people didn't report because there was no outcry from the victims until they were adults. Sandusky's type of serial sexual abuse depends on victims slipping through the cracks. Unfortunately that happens a lot more than you might suspect.
Closing arguments are set for tomorrow. Don't be surprised if some charges are dropped or consolidated, again it happens all the time. The closing statements both sides make will be very telling about where they think they stand with they jury. No matter what's said, it'll be a fascinating day in Centre County