Dottie Sandusky defends husband

Dottie Sandusky arrives at the Centre County Courthouse Tuesday in Bellefonte, Pa.
Dottie Sandusky arrives at the Centre County Courthouse Tuesday in Bellefonte, Pa.

Bellefonte, Pa. - Dottie Sandusky took the witness stand in her husband's defense Tuesday, saying she never knew of any inappropriate behavior by Jerry Sandusky toward any of the eight witnesses who have accused him of sex abuse.

She spoke in a slightly quavering voice but remained composed throughout her 45 minutes on the stand.

Asked if her basement - where witnesses said they were assaulted - is soundproof, she said no.

"How is your hearing?" defense attorney Joseph Amendola asked.

"I think it's pretty good. I hear lots of noises."

She offered a negative assessment of the personalities of a couple of the accusers. For one, a star prosecution witness known in court as "Victim 4," and who said he was abused by the defendant some 15 years ago when he was a boy, she had particularly harsh words: "He was very demanding. And he was very conniving. He wanted his way. He didn't listen a lot."

Of another witness, "Victim 9," she said, "He was a charmer, he knew what to say, when to say it."

She said that she walked in on her husband yelling at Victim 4 - both fully clothed - in a hotel room during a visit to the Alamo Bowl in the late 1990s. The witness said Sandusky tried to force him to perform oral sex and that Dottie Sandusky could be heard outside the bathroom asking what was going on. But she said they were arguing about the boy's refusal to go to a luncheon.

She said her husband said to the boy, whose expenses were paid by the Sanduskys, "We did this for you. You've got to do this."

At the close of her testimony, prosecutor Joseph McGettigan asked if she knew of any reason why the witnesses would lie about her husband.

She was silent for a moment, and turned and looked at her husband, who sat about 15 feet away. She turned back to the prosecutor and said, "I-I don't know. I don't know what it would be for."

It is unclear if Jerry Sandusky, a former Penn State assistant coach who has pleaded not guilty to 51 counts related to child sex abuse, will take the stand in his own defense.

Earlier Tuesday, Amendola played a tape in court in which a state trooper investigating Sandusky for alleged sex crimes told a potential accuser that other boys had already come forward with stories of abuse, including oral sex and rape.

Amendola, trying to gain traction after a halting start Monday to the defense case, is trying to persuade the jury that the accusers were coached by investigators and may have an incentive to lie or embellish in anticipation of a possible large payout in a civil lawsuit.

Earlier Tuesday, Amendola called two state troopers to the stand, both of whom had investigated Sandusky. One of the troopers, Joseph Leiter, was heard in an April 21, 2011, tape recording tell Victim 4 about other witnesses and urging him to offer more details about Sandusky, who at that point had not been charged with a crime.

"You're doing very well," Leiter told him. "You have been repeating word for word pretty much what a lot of people have already told us. . ..There's a pretty well defined progression in the way that (Sandusky) operates and still operates to some degree."

Leiter went on to say that there had been "acts of oral sex that have taken place by both parties," and "a rape has occurred." He said, "We need you to tell us that this happened."

Questioned on the witness stand, Leiter said his interviewing technique was professional and that, because of the nature of the alleged sex abuse, the witnesses had been reluctant to tell what happened.

"Each of these accusers was very, very seriously injured and very concerned, and we had told them, especially prior to going to the grand jury, that they wouldn't be alone, that there were others."

The defense also called to the stand Benjamin Andreozzi, the private attorney for Victim 4. Andreozzi was in the room during his client's interview by the state troopers. He said that he's had no discussions with his clients about filing a civil suit. But under extended questioning about whether a guilty verdict would have an impact on a decision to file a suit, Andreozzi answered, "It could impact. Yes, it could."

The defense is trying to undermine the credibility of the witnesses against Sandusky, but the number of accusers poses a challenge for Sandusky. The prosecution has staged what amounts to a blitz on Sandusky - bringing into the courtroom here not just a few accusers, but eight. The witnesses have told stories that have common elements of grooming behavior by Sandusky, followed by increased physical contact and then sexual assault.

The jurors, most of whom have been taking notes, will not render a simple guilty or not guilty verdict, but must reach a judgment on each of the 51 counts.

Tuesday afternoon, an expert witness for the defense, psychologist Elliot Atkins, testified that he had diagnosed Sandusky as suffering from a condition called Histrionic Personality Disorder, one characterized by excessive emotionality, need for approval from others and "inappropriate sexually seductive or provocative behavior."

Atkins was permitted to testify in a narrow sense: That this condition explained the letters that Sandusky had written to Victim 4. That witness had called them "creepy love letters." Atkins said he had diagnosed Sandusky after six hours of personal interviews and after giving Sandusky two objective personality tests. Only later did he see the letters, which, he said, "made me feel more confident about my diagnosis."

The judge in his instructions to the jury prior to the Atkins testimony indicated that this "alternative" explanation to the "love letters" should not be interpreted as excusing any particular behavior.

The morning began with affirmations of support for Sandusky by his friends and neighbors, several of whom have sat through every day of the trial so far. They included Jack Willenbrock, a neighbor who said his kids grew up with the Sandusky kids.

"Among our children, among our grandchildren, Jerry Sandusky is a father figure and he's also respected for what he's done professionally," Willenbrock said.

Another friend, Joyce Porter, who has also watched much of the trial, testified, "All the people I know who know Jerry think he's a wonderful man."


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