BELLEFONTE, Pa., Aug. 11 (UPI) — Former Penn State University football coach and convicted child sex abuser Jerry Sandusky will testify in open court Friday for the first time in the case, as part of an effort to seek a new trial.
Sandusky’s attorney, Alexander Lindsay, has argued in court papers that a combination of legal missteps by prosecutors, and even defense counsel, in 2012 denied his client a fair trial.
Centre County Judge John Cleland has agreed to hear new arguments for a retrial and scheduled three days of hearings for that purpose, starting Friday.
Sandusky, 72, is scheduled to testify in open court Friday for the first time in the case. He waived his right to a preliminary hearing in 2011 and chose not to testify during trial in 2012.
In court filings, Lindsay stated that numerous factors before the original trial transformed “an innocent man into one of the country’s most infamous ‘child predators.'”
Eight men testified against Sandusky at trial and claimed they were each sexually assaulted years ago when they were children by the assistant football coach on the Penn State University campus in State College, Pa.
However, Lindsay’s appeal claims, those victims were pressured by prosecutors and coached in their testimony.
Sandusky, who was one of Penn State’s top football assistants between 1969 and 1999, was ultimately convicted on numerous charges of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, indecent assault, criminal intent to commit indecent assault, unlawful contact with minors, corruption of minors and endangering the welfare of children.
He was convicted on 45 of the 48 counts against him and sentenced to between 30 and 60 years in prison. If his appeals are unsuccessful, Sandusky will likely die behind bars. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejected a limited appeal in 2014.
Among Lindsay’s stated grounds for a new trial are prosecutorial misconduct and critical blunders by Sandusky’s former defense counsel. Under Pennsylvania law, if a convict can demonstrate that their counsel’s ineptitude directly led to a conviction, they may be awarded a new trial.
One of the issues Sandusky is expected to testify about is an interview he gave to NBC’s Bob Costas in November 2011 that led many viewers to doubt his innocence. Lindsay claims that Sandusky’s former defense attorney failed to prepare him for the interview, which was later shown to jurors at trial and may have been a key factor in their verdict.
Pennsylvania authorities, however, remain firm in their belief of the former coach’s guilt.
“We feel strongly that Mr. Sandusky’s claims are without merit,” Jeffrey Johnson, a spokesman for Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane, said. It was Kane’s predecessor, Linda Kelly, who successfully prosecuted Sandusky.
“I have no doubt about Jerry Sandusky’s guilt,” attorney Joseph McGettigan, who prosecuted Sandusky in 2012, told the Wall Street Journal Thursday. “He was the most prolific pedophile that I’ve encountered.”