Jurors in Bellefonte, Pa., began their deliberations Thursday in the child sexual abuse trial of former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky after hearing two starkly different descriptions of the case against him.
In closing arguments, the prosecution and the defense clashed over defense attorney Joseph Amendola's suggestion that the entire case — in which two grand juries accused Sandusky of having abused 10 young boys over 15 years — was a conspiracy among police, prosecutors and the alleged victims and their lawyers, in hopes of a big payday in future civil trials.
"The system" prejudged Sandusky and "set out to convict him" even though the case against him makes no sense, Amendola said.
But Deputy Pennsylvania Attorney General Joseph McGettigan, the lead prosecutor, argued that it defied common sense to believe the police and court systems would have conspired to bring down a figure as beloved in the community as Sandusky, the former longtime defensive coordinator for Penn State's nationally famous football team and founder of the Second Mile charity for troubled children.
"What would we gain?" he asked.
Sandusky, 68, is charged with 48 counts alleging that he abused 10 boys over 15 years after three more counts were dropped early Thursday. The grand jury reports accused him of having used his connection to one of the nation's premier college football programs to "groom" the boys for sexual relationships.
Amendola said during the closing defense argument. "If Jerry Sandusky did this — if he did this — he should rot in jail. Bless his heart, that's my feeling. But what if he didn't do this? His life is destroyed."
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