Sandusky lawyer likens sex abuse trial to soap opera

(Note: explicit sexual content)

BELLEFONTE, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - The defense lawyer for accused child sex offender Jerry Sandusky on Tuesday likened the former Penn State football coach's trial to a soap opera and joked to reporters to "stay tuned."

Sandusky, 68, the former defensive coordinator for Pennsylvania State University's high-powered football program, is accused of abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period, some at university facilities.

Asked as he arrived at court whether he would put Sandusky on the stand, defense attorney Joe Amendola said: "Stay tuned. Come on, it's like a soap, you have to wait and see."

"Is it 'Days of our Lives?'" a reporter asked in return, referring to a long-running U.S. daytime television drama.

"I think it's 'General Hospital,'" Amendola answered. Then, a moment later, after returning from parking his car, he quipped, "Actually it could be 'All My Children.'"

Amendola said previously that Sandusky would testify.

The high-profile trial is in its final stages, with Judge John Cleland telling jurors on Monday he expected closing arguments to take place on Thursday. The jury of seven women and five men then will be sequestered at a local hotel, he said.

The charges against Sandusky focused renewed national attention on child sexual abuse and prompted the firing in November of Penn State President Graham Spanier and legendary head football coach Joe Paterno.

Tuesday was the second day of the defense's presentation after the prosecution rested its case. Initial witnesses for Sandusky vouched for his good character.

Eight of the alleged victims, now men aged 18 to 28, offered sometimes graphic testimony last week. The testimony included accounts of molestation ranging from groping and bear hugs in football showers to oral and anal sex.

With Amendola seeking a more upbeat assessment of Sandusky, two former Penn State assistant coaches, Booker Brooks and Richard Anderson, testified that it was not unusual for men to shower with boys in Penn State locker rooms.

Anderson said he had seen Sandusky in the showers with children, but never saw anything inappropriate. Brooks told jurors he had also showered with children and he considered Sandusky "a great guy."


Another witness, political campaign strategist David Pasquinelli, testified he had worked with Sandusky on a fundraising campaign from 2007 to 2009 for the Second Mile charity, a group Sandusky had founded for at-risk youth.

"I saw a lot of goofing around. Jerry had a very unique way, and many of us were inspired by this, to relate to youth" on several levels," he said.

Earlier Monday, the final prosecution witness testified that her son, who told jurors last week he bled from being raped, was often missing his underwear when he returned from visits with Sandusky. She said the boy would tell her he had an accident and threw them out.

Sandusky had faced 52 counts of child molestation, but the prosecution dropped one charge of unlawful contact with minors on Monday.

Two university officials also face charges of perjury and failure to report suspected abuse in an alleged incident involving Sandusky and a boy at a Penn State locker room. (Editing by Paul Thomasch and Doina Chiacu)