Judge refuses to drop Sandusky charges

April 12, 2012

A judge on Thursday refused to throw out child sex-abuse charges against Jerry Sandusky but will allow defense lawyers for the retired Penn State assistant football coach to ask again to have the case dismissed as more evidence is turned over by prosecutors.

Judge John Cleland ruled on a catch-all pretrial defense motion that also sought to have some of the evidence against Sandusky suppressed, compel additional disclosure of prosecution materials, and win the court's permission to introduce an alibi defense.

Sandusky, 68, is charged with more than 50 criminal counts that allege he sexually abused 10 boys over 15 years, both on the Penn State campus and elsewhere. He has denied the allegations. The scandal led to the ousters of Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, who died in January, and Penn State President Graham Spanier.

Cleland rejected an argument by Sandusky's legal team that the statute of limitations may have run out for eight of the 10 alleged victims.


He also rebuffed defense arguments that some of the charges against Sandusky were not specific enough, and that evidence was lacking in others. But the judge said Thursday that Sandusky can raise those arguments again before a June trial, writing that ''discovery is ongoing, and, as a result, some of the defendant's requests for relief are premature.''

Sandusky attorney Joe Amendola declined comment on the order, citing a gag order imposed by Cleland that severely limits what lawyers on both sides may say to reporters. A spokesman for the state attorney general's office did not respond to a phone message.

Ruling on other defense motions, Cleland said prosecutors must turn over any evidence of crimes beyond those for which Sandusky has been charged, and to disclose any criminal records of prosecution witnesses. Cleland also said Sandusky will be allowed to introduce an alibi defense, but only if it's based on new evidence arising from the discovery process.

Cleland rejected Amendola's argument that a June search of Sandusky's home in State College was illegal. Amendola has said previously the search turned up nothing that implicated his client.

The judge granted a defense request to question prospective jurors individually, but deferred ruling on a second request that jurors be sequestered at trial. Prosecutors did not oppose either motion.

Sandusky's trial is scheduled to begin June 5.

Penn State, meanwhile, announced Thursday that it's starting a professional training program designed for employees to recognize and report instances of child abuse.

The first round of training, to begin April 18, will target employees working in summer camps and programs.