Latest eyebrow-raiser: Sandusky lawyer invites students out for drinks
By Adam Smeltz and Brad Bumsted
Published: Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
Jerry Sandusky shouldn't have showered with those kids.
The former college football coach, 68, said as much to NBC's Bob Costas 10 days after his arrest in November.
But with his sentencing complete, that jarring appearance now ranks among the odd turns in a strange criminal defense that has defied legal norms for almost a year.
Fresh twists came Monday night when a student radio station shared a bold statement from the imprisoned pedophile while his second-string attorney drank in downtown State College.
“OK, I'm buying at Zeno's bar,” the attorney, Karl Rominger, wrote on Twitter. He invited Penn State University students to show up within 30 minutes “to get on my tab.”
“Coeds appreciated,” Rominger added.
At Duquesne University, law professor S. Michael Streib said the legal community doesn't look well on such antics. “To the extent that he's become a public persona because of his participation in the Sandusky case, I'm not sure that's an image he would want to cultivate,” Streib said.
Rominger said he was simply kidding on Twitter and didn't drink with any college women. He argued much of the case has proven unconventional.
“I don't know if there was any (plan), per se, to throw out the rule book,” he said. “The reality of modern trial practice in a high-profile case is that you have to consider the media component. The government does. They're controlling it with charging documents, the perp walk.”
Rominger said a conventional defense may not put its client on NBC or in The New York Times, with which Sandusky also did an interview last fall.
But news media helped shape the ordeal from the start, and the defense team wanted to avoid “a patina of guilt” before the trial in June, Rominger said.
More recently, Sandusky himself “really wanted to get his side of the story out.” His nearly three-minute audio message shared through ComRadio, a university-backed student station, was meant for release after sentencing Tuesday, Rominger said.
Sandusky used the rambling message to declare his wife has been “my only sex partner.” He also questioned the integrity of his victims.
He went further at sentencing, saying: “I've been kissed by dogs; I've been bitten by dogs.” Sandusky also implied he cracked his head against the wall and suggested it was ironic, though his context and meaning were unclear.
“Unfortunately, this is classic narcissism that is normally used by chronic child abusers or pedophiles. They completely lack any sort of empathy,” said Tony Gaskew, a criminal-justice professor at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford.
He said Sandusky “cannot even remotely see the impact of his behavior on others because he feels he's the most important entity.”
Longtime Sandusky friend Joyce Porter, 64, of State College said she was surprised he made a statement. She doesn't know what he was trying to accomplish.
“You know, what can he say?” said Porter, who thinks Sandusky is innocent. “Most people don't believe him. Most people had him prosecuted before the trial even started. I think a lot of people would've sent him to prison just for taking a shower with a boy.
“It was their word against his word.”
Brad Bumsted and Adam Smeltz are staff writers for Trib Total Media.
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