Sandusky trial opening statements begin

11:49 AM, Jun 11, 2012   |    comments
Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky walks into the Centre County Courthouse before the first day of his child sex abuse trial begins on June 11, 2012, in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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BELLEFONTE, Pa. -- Prosecutors began unveiling their case against Jerry Sandusky on Monday describing the former Penn State University assistant football coach as a "serial predator" in opening statements in the trial of the 68-year-old man accused of sexually abusing 10 boys during a period of 15 years.

Seated just a few yards away from the jury of seven women and five men, Sandusky looked on as prosecutor Joe McGettigan displayed the childhood photographs of eight alleged victims on a giant screen across from the jury box.

"You are going to be hearing from young men and the experiences that happened not over days, not weeks, or months, but over years," he said. "It reminds me of what a famous author once said, the past is never dead."

McGettigan, occasionally pointing at Sandusky, said the former coach "escalated" his behavior over time until it reached "sexual intercourse and oral sex."

He said that one of the alleged victims shown on the screen was forced to engage in oral sex with Sandusky more than 20 times.

"You'll be looking at these young men from there," McGettigan said, pointing to the witness box. "Up 'till now, they have been known as Victim 1, Victim 2, Victim 3, and so on. But these are real people with real life experiences."

McGettigan said Sandusky selected his victims from a "vast pool" of children who participated in the coach's charity for at-risk children known as The Second Mile.

Sandusky, wearing an olive suit, looked at jurors without expression as McGettigan made his statements. He occasionally turned to some papers in front of him on the defense table. His wife, Dottie, wearing a blue suit, was seated on the first row behind the defense table but was later ushered out of the courtroom as a potential witness in the case.

The trial opened Monday seven months after Sandusky's arrest, following the fast-paced selection of seven women and five men to serve on a jury whose members have strong ties to Penn State.

Sandusky, a revered former coach who helped bring two national championships to Penn State, is alleged to have selected many of the accusers while they participated in the charity program.

The coach has acknowledged showering with children after physical workouts, but has denied any abusive behavior.

Sandusky's arrest last November triggered a dizzying series of events at a school, including the ouster of university president Graham Spanier and college football legend Joe Paterno.

Long the face of Penn State, Paterno died in January shortly after being diagnosed with lung cancer.

Neither Paterno nor Spanier was charged, but former athletic director Tim Curley, on leave from that job, and retired senior vice president Gary Schultz were charged with lying to a Pennsylvania grand jury about what they were told about a 2001 incident in the Penn State locker-room showers involving Sandusky and a boy believed to be about 11 years old.

Michael McQueary, a former football assistant, has said that he told Curley and Schultz that he witnessed Sandusky engaged in sexual conduct with the boy, who has not been identified by authorities. McQueary first told Paterno, who alerted Curley and Schultz. But the administrators told the grand jury that McQueary's account did not include a description of sexual activity. They deny any wrongdoing; a trial date has yet to be set in that case.

As many as eight of Sandusky's alleged victims are expected to testify during Sandusky's trial that is expected to take three weeks.

(USA Today)

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