“If the jury does not believe a defendant is telling the truth, they won’t pause to convict,” says Peter Henning, a law professor at Wayne State University Law School in Detroit, Mich. “What makes [the Sandusky] case different is you had very powerful testimony from eight witnesses. You can try to say maybe they’re all making it up, but once you get to eight witnesses, it’s hard to slough that off. They’re almost in need of throwing a Hail Mary because, in a sense, what else do you have to lose?”
Sandusky faces 51 criminal counts related to alleged abuse involving 10 boys over a 15-year period. All of the alleged victims met Sandusky through his children’s charity, The Second Mile.
The defense opened its case Monday with two former Penn State assistant football coaches who both described Sandusky’s behavior involving children as typical in youth athletics, where the mentoring relationship between coaches and young athletes often involves long, exhaustive days and close contact on and off the field.
Richard Anderson, a Sandusky colleague for about 20 years, testified to the strength of Sandusky’s positive reputation in the community and that “it was not uncommon” that the showering between Sandusky and his alleged victims took place “on occasion” when other coaches were in and out of the locker room. Under cross-examination, Mr. Anderson said he was not aware that Penn State prohibited boys from entering athletic department showers starting in 2001.
Another Sandusky colleague, Booker Brooks, said mutual showering in sports culture between adults and children is a “very common thing.”