The defense continued presenting witnesses Tuesday, alleging that officers tainted the victims’ testimony and showing that Jerry Sandusky might have a personality disorder. And the defense team brought forth its biggest witness yet: Dottie Sandusky, Jerry’s wife. Sandusky is accused of 51 counts of criminal child sexual abuse. If convicted, he faces more than 500 years in prison. Five things you need to know from Tuesday’s testimony:
Dottie Sandusky stood up for her husband on the stand. As the closest witness so far to the alleged wrongdoing, Dottie Sandusky maintained her husband’s innocence and attempted to clear up many lingering questions. She testified that she never heard any noises from the basement, and stated contrary to an alleged victim’s testimony that the walls weren’t soundproof. Asked about her hearing, she said, “I think it’s pretty good. I hear lots of noises.” She and Jerry will celebrate their 46th wedding anniversary in September, and she said she recognized many of her husband’s accusers. Of the eight alleged victims that testified over the past week, Dottie Sandusky said she knew six. And she maintained that there was no inappropriate conduct between them, explaining that nearly all of the boys would often stay overnight at their home, and that they had a choice between the basement, first or second floors of the house. She testified that her husband “would tell them good night,” but would return to bed with her after. Dottie Sandusky even proceeded to reveal the personalities of the boys, calling Victim No. 4 “demanding” and “conniving.” “He wanted his way. He didn’t listen a lot,” she said. Victim No. 9 was a “charmer.” As Sandusky was cross-examined, lead prosecutor Joseph McGettigan asked if she knew of any reason why her husband would lie. “I – I don’t know,” she stuttered. “I don’t know what it would be for.”
Jerry Sandusky might have a personality disorder. As predicted, the defense brought forward a psychologist who testified that he examined Sandusky and diagnosed him with histrionic personality disorder. Elliot Atkins testified Tuesday that he vetted Sandusky for six hours after the scandal broke and confirmed the personality disorder. The psychologist explained to jurors that histrionic personality disorder is characterized by wild emotional swings, inappropriate sexual behavior and extreme attention-seeking. Atkins testified that reading Sandusky’s 2001 autobiography Touched “absolutely confirmed my diagnosis.” The disorder could help explain some of the so-called “creepy love letters” that Victim No. 4 reportedly received.
However, a second psychologist took the stand later in the day to debunk Atkins’ claims, particularly about showing symptoms of the disorder in the “creepy” letters. “In my opinion, they are not consistent with a personality disorder. In my opinion, they are highly manipulative,” Dr. John Sebastian O’Brien II testified. Dr. O’Brien claimed that Sandusky couldn’t have the disorder, because he’d have trouble maintaining relationships, but Sandusky thrived in both his personal and professional lives.
One alleged victim’s mother bragged about getting rich from a settlement against Sandusky. The mother of Victim No. 1 allegedly told her neighbor about her son’s abuse by the former Penn State assistant coach and brought up the possibility of getting money out of it. The neighbor was called as a defense witness Tuesday and told the jury what the mother allegedly said. “When this all settles out,” he testified, she said she’d have “a nice big house in the country with a fence and the dogs can run free.” The neighbor added that the victim shared similar sentiments. “When this is over I’ll have a nice new Jeep,” Victim No. 1 allegedly told him. Sandusky’s lawyer Joe Amendola has alleged in the past that the accusers were motivated to come forward by the prospect of a payday.
Sandusky’s lawyers accused state troopers of tainting testimony of the alleged victims. Two troopers faced accusations from the defense team about an interview they conducted with Victim No. 4 last year. Amendola said that the policemen coached the alleged victims on what to say as they gave statements. He asked retired Cpl. Joseph Leiter if he told the young men that others had come forward. “In some of our interviews … we did tell them,” he said, explaining it was important to feel that they were not alone. Leiter, along with Cpl. Scott Rossman, seemed to get caught in a lie when the defense team played a recording. The tape seemed to show Victim No. 4’s civil attorney giving the troopers suggestions on how to get his client to open up when the alleged victim had stepped out for a smoke break. When Victim No. 4 returned, Leiter told him about the nine others that had come forward and some of the actions they had alleged. “Oftentimes this progression, especially when it goes on for an extended period of time, leads to more than touching and feeling,” he said on the recording. Leiter denied doing anything out of the scope of a normal investigation and testified that he considered the techniques “appropriate.”
Sandusky’s lawyer likened the case to a soap opera. Before entering court Tuesday morning, Amendola refused to answer reporters’ questions. Instead, he alluded to the theatrics of the case. “It’s like a soap – you have to wait and see. If you know all the answers, it takes the excitement out of it.” Clever reporters pressed him, wondering which soap he would choose to apply to these proceedings. “General Hospital,” he spouted off, before changing his mind to “All My Children” as he strolled into court.