Prosecution set to rest in Sandusky child sex abuse trial

(Note explicit sexual content)

BELLEFONTE, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - Prosecutors were expected to rest their case on Monday in the child sex abuse trial of Jerry Sandusky after presenting testimony from witnesses who described in often-graphic detail being molested as boys by the former Penn State University assistant football coach.

In 3-1/2 days of testimony last week from eight alleged victims of Sandusky, the prosecution sought to convince the jury in Pennsylvania that he is a serial sexual predator who targeted boys through the Second Mile charity he founded in 1977 for underprivileged children.

The accounts from the witnesses, now aged 18 to 28, of being victimized as young boys by a much older man, including oral sex and shared showers, at times brought both them and the jurors to tears.

Sandusky, 68, the former defensive coordinator for Pennsylvania State University's successful football program, faces 52 counts of abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period. Two of the alleged victims have never been identified.

If convicted on all counts, Sandusky faces a sentence of more than 500 years in prison. He has pleaded not guilty.

The case prompted the firing last year of the university's president, Graham Spanier, and head football coach Joe Paterno, record-holder for most wins by a major U.S. college football coach. Paterno died of lung cancer in January at age 85.

The allegations against Sandusky have also focused U.S. national attention on the issue of child sexual abuse.

The trial now turns to the defense, which has said it could call dozens of witnesses, including Sandusky's wife Dottie and other family members, as well as Paterno's widow Sue and son Jay.

A spokesman for Sue and Jay Paterno has said they were not aware they were potential witnesses until defense attorney Joe Amendola released the list during selection of the jury of seven women and five women.

Amendola has argued that the accusers are out for money and in cross examination last week asked them whether they had hired attorneys to pursue civil action against his client. Amendola has said that Sandusky might have acted inappropriately but is not a molester.

Amendola told the Centre County Court in his opening statement he faced a daunting task since the former coach had undergone a "tidal wave" of negative publicity. He has also said Sandusky will testify.

The defense scored a victory on Friday when the judge overseeing the case ruled that it could enter expert testimony that Sandusky suffered from histrionic personality disorder.

People with the disorder are highly emotional attention-seekers who show inappropriate sexually seductive behavior.

(This version of the story has been corrected to fix the spelling of Spanier in the sixth paragraph)

(Editing by Paul Thomasch and David Brunnstrom)