Thursday, June 21, 2012

Sandusky Trial Day 8

Thursday marked the closing arguments  of both prosecution and defense and the case being given to the jury.  The big news of the day happened outside the court house as two more victims came forward.  One of  them, Matt Sandusky, adopted son of Jerry and Dottie Sandusky.

I'll get to that in a moment but first a quick look at the closing arguments.

First the prosecution's which was particularly good. Reading excerpts reported by several outlets, it appears that Mr. McGettigan did his job to the best of his ability.  It will be hard for the jury to forget the faces of the 8 men shown on a 12 foot screen as boys.  That's the sort of thing that connects juries to the people who were victimized.  It humanizes the victims and they are no longer randomly titled "Victim 1 through 10".

In the many trials that I have been a part of, anything done with the big projection screen seems to have an impact.  I had a case a while back in which the defense used the projector and the prosecution did not.  The perp was found not guilty despite a mountain of evidence against him.  Juries are funny that way.

I'll say this for Joe Amendola, he really sells his side of the case.  His close hit all the points he made in the trial.  The one point he made that made me laugh was when he said that Sandusky didn't start being a pedophile until his 50's because all the alleged incidents started in the 1990's.  No, Joe, Sandusky didn't start in his 50's, no one before then has come forward. That"s a big distinction.

In the big news of the day, two more people came forward.  Travis Weaver, a 30 year old man came forward, has filed a civil suit and was interviewed on Rock Center with Brian Williams on NBC.  The full interview is to be shown on Thursday night's show.

Matt Sandusky also came forward.  He was prepared to be a rebuttal witness if Jerry Sandusky took the stand.  Matt Sandusky, through his attorney issued a statement that he was a victim of molestation by Jerry Sandusky and was later adopted by the Sanduskys as an adult.

Several questions were tweeted and emailed to me today about why the prosecution did not use these  two witnesses.  First, if I am reading Pennsylvania law correctly, both of these men are beyond the statute of limitations.  Abuse that occurred under the age of 18 can only be prosecuted 10 years after the victim turns 18.

In Illinois the law is similar.  Victims outside the statute can be used for rebuttal in some instances, but because of bans on presenting prior bad acts as prejudicial, I have not seen any case in which they were allowed to testify.  Usually prior victims are used during sentencing to show patterns of behavior.

The other question that was posed today was why did Dottie Sandusky not notice behavior changes in her Foster Son and later Adopted Son, Matt.

The reason is tragic on many fronts.  Foster kids and adoptive kids make perfect victims for serial sexual abusers.  Foster kids and adopted kids especially those adopted later in life have a myriad of behavioral, mental and social problems.  Any unusual behavior by that child is chalked up to being a foster kid.  They become sullen, withdrawn, perhaps even act out sexually, and it's all chalked up to being a foster or adopted kid with attachment disorders.  Unless the kid makes a disclosure, these behaviors are almost always attributed to other factors.

The children he had living with him as foster and adoptive children are even more perfect prey than the boys with no father figure and no self esteem that he groomed through Second Mile.

This case is finally with the jury.  Unfortunately, no matter the verdict, the atrocities that Jerry Sandusky committed, will never go away.


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  2. A fine summation Pat. I was asking a Pittsburgh lawyer friend of mine, Ron, about Matt S. My question was essentially: Could McGettigan have called Matt S despite the fact that he wasn't one of the accusers.

    Ron's answer-

    I don't have my Rules of Evidence in front of me, but generally speaking, Matt's testimony would have been inadmissible. When you need to prove that the defendant ran over your bunny rabbit, you are not allowed to prove that he ran over my bunny rabbit and Jack's bunny rabbit, too. There are exceptions, but in a criminal case the rule is going to be pretty strictly applied.

    But the defense could have "opened the door," allowing the prosecution to put that testimony on in rebuttal. Thus, if the defendant takes the stand and testifies "I have never run over a bunny rabbit in my life," well, the door is wide open.

    I think that's what was going on.