BELLEFONTE, Pa – Jurors in Jerry Sandusky's child sexual abuse case began deliberations Thursday after prosecutors described him as a child molester who groomed his victims, while a defense attorney said the former Penn State assistant football coach was being victimized by an overzealous prosecution and greedy accusers.
After deliberating for more than seven hours, the jury asked the judge if they could rehear testimony from two witnesses: Mike McQueary, a onetime graduate assistant who reported seeing Sandusky assault a boy in a campus shower, and Dr. Jonathan Dranov, who testified that McQueary gave him a different account of what he saw.
Prosecutors sought to portray Sandusky as a "predatory pedophile" who used gifts and the pageantry of Penn State's vaunted football program to lure and abuse vulnerable boys who came from troubled homes.
"What you should do is come out and say to the defendant that he molested and abused and give them back their souls," Senior Deputy Attorney General Joe McGettigan. "I give them to you. Acknowledge and give them justice."
Sandusky's attorney called the former coach a generous man being victimized by investigators who led accusers into making false claims about a beloved father figure whose charity gave them much-needed love.
"They went after him, and I submit to you they were going to get him hell or high water, even if they had to coach witnesses," Amendola said in a sometimes angry closing argument.
If convicted, Sandusky could spend the rest of his life in state prison. He is charged with 48 counts related to 10 boys over 15 years. The jury includes nine with ties to Penn State University.
The closing arguments came after seven days testimony, some of it graphically describing alleged abuse suffered at the hands of Sandusky, including touching in showers, fondling and in some cases forced oral or anal sex.
Sandusky, 68, did not take the stand in his own defense. Eight young men testified that they were victims of the former Penn State assistant football coach, and jurors also heard about two other alleged victims through other witnesses, including another former coach.
It was the testimony of that coach, then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary, that led to the massive scandal that prompted university trustees the fire longtime coach Joe Paterno and the university's president.
Sandusky has repeatedly denied the allegations, and his defense at trial included a suggestion that his accusers have a financial motive to make up stories, years after the fact.
The eight accusers testified about a range of alleged abuse, from kissing and massages to groping, oral sex and anal rape. Penn State football assistant Mike McQueary said he witnessed Sandusky in a team shower with a young boy more than a decade ago, and is convinced Sandusky was molesting the child.
Defense witnesses, including Sandusky's wife, Dottie, described his philanthropic work with children over the years, and many of the 28 defense witnesses spoke in positive terms about his reputation in the community.
Sandusky's arrest in November led the Penn State trustees to fire Paterno, saying he exhibited a lack of leadership after fielding a report from McQueary about the 2001 incident. The scandal also led to the ouster of university president Graham Spanier, and criminal charges against two university administrators for failing to properly report suspected child abuse and perjury.
The two administrators, athletic director Tim Curley and now-retired vice president Gary Schultz, are fighting the allegations and await trial.