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Judge won't delay Jerry Sandusky's sex-abuse trial

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BELLEFONTE, Pa. (AP)

Jerry Sandusky's child sexual abuse trail remained on track to begin next week following a ruling by the presiding judge on Wednesday.

Judge John Cleland rejected the argument for a delay by the defense for the former Penn State assistant football coach, who was charged in November and December with a total of 52 counts involving 10 boys he allegedly abused between 1994 and 2008.

Sandusky's lawyers sought the delay by citing experts who would not be available or able to help, an investigator who was facing surgery, large amounts of material that had yet to be analyzed and two Penn State administrators who face their own trial and will not be available as witnesses. Another issue involved grand jury, and although Cleland did not elaborate on it, citing grand jury secrecy, he denied it.

"The reality of our system of justice is that no date for trial is ever perfect, but some dates are better than others," Cleland wrote.

Cleland said starting jury selection on Tuesday would, on balance, protect Sandusky's right to a fair trial, the alleged victims' rights to their day in court, the state's obligation to prosecute promptly and the public's expectation of a swift proceeding.

The ruling came a few hours before a court hearing was scheduled to address any unresolved pretrial issues. Cleland has not ruled on a defense motion to have the charges thrown out, or on a recent request by attorneys for five alleged victims to keep their identities secret.

Cleland said the delay request was the topic of a private meeting Tuesday with prosecutors, defense attorneys and Sandusky himself that had not been publicly disclosed ahead of time. Sandusky was not expected to attend the Wednesday afternoon proceeding.

The charges against Sandusky concern his relationships with boys he met through his charity for at-risk kids, The Second Mile. Prosecutors allege Sandusky groomed the boys for sexual abuse, offering gifts and access to the team in addition to companionship.

At least some of the alleged abuse happened in the Penn State football team's facilities, prosecutors said. One of the alleged attacks was witnessed by former receivers coach Mike McQueary, then a graduate assistant.

Details of the grand jury report touched of a massive scandal that engulfed the university, ultimately leading to the firing of Hall of Fame football coach Joe Paterno and the ouster of university President Graham Spanier. Two other university officials are charged with failing to report suspected abuse and perjury related to their grand jury testimony.

Those two officials, athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz, are the potential witnesses referred to in Cleland's latest order. Curley, on leave, and Schultz, now retired, have told Sandusky's lawyer they will invoke their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination if subpoenaed.

Also Wednesday, Cleland issued a detailed "decorum order" that will govern reporters and others who plan to attend the trial. Cleland said opening statements will not begin before June 11, six days after the start of jury selection.

Tagged: Penn State

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