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Sandusky's adopted son says he was molested

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By Debra Erdley and Adam Smeltz
Thursday, June 21, 2012, 5:24 p.m.
 

BELLEFONTE — Matt Sandusky, the youngest adopted son of Dottie and Jerry Sandusky, offered to testify for the prosecution this week that his adoptive father molested him, his attorney said on Thursday.

The surprise twist became public as the sequestered jury began deliberations on 48 criminal charges of child sex abuse against Jerry Sandusky, 68.

Matt Sandusky, 33, was listed as a defense witness but was sequestered throughout the proceedings and never took the stand.

His attorney, Andrew Shubin, said Matt Sandusky came forward during the trial and disclosed to prosecutors “for the first time in this case that he is a victim of Jerry Sandusky's abuse.”

In a written statement, Shubin said he immediately arranged a meeting between his client and the state attorney general's office.

Prosecutors could not immediately be reached for comment.

No one answered the door at Matt Sandusky's home in College Township, not far from his parents' house. His listed phone number did not answer.

“This has been an extremely painful experience for Matt, and he has asked us to convey his request that the media respect his privacy. There will be no further comment at this time,” Shubin said.

Joseph Amendola, lead defense attorney for Jerry Sandusky, said he could not comment, citing Judge John M. Cleland's gag order.

The threat of testimony might have kept the elder Sandusky off the stand, NBC News reported, citing unnamed sources. The network said Matt Sandusky was in the courthouse on Wednesday when Jerry Sandusky and lawyers went into Cleland's chambers. They came out 30 minutes later and said the defendant would not testify.

“To me, the fact that (prosecutors) didn't use him shows they are very confident of their case,” said Donna McClelland, a former Westmoreland County prosecutor who practices with the McClelland Law group in Pittsburgh.

Matt Sandusky's name came up during the trial when “Victim 4” testified that Matt was with him when he played racquetball with the retired football coach and went into the showers with them but turned and left when Jerry Sandusky started tossing soap at him, a move that was typically a prelude to the coach's sexual advances in the shower, witnesses said.

Matt Sandusky met Jerry and Dottie Sandusky through the Second Mile charity when he was 7 or 8. He became the youngest of the couple's six adopted children when the Sanduskys adopted him when he turned 18.

Jerry Sandusky's 2001 autobiography “Touched” includes suggestions that some people questioned his actions as he battled to obtain custody of Matt when the teenager was a foster child.

Matt's biological mother, Debra Long, went public in a TV interview shortly after Jerry Sandusky's arrest with complaints that authorities ignored her concerns about Matt's relationship with the Sanduskys.

She said that, over time, her son went from being an outgoing child to a sullen youth who often hid when Sandusky visited. That statement was similar to testimony a mother of one of Sandusky's alleged victims gave this week about how her son changed.

The Patriot-News of Harrisburg reported that Matt Sandusky testified before the grand jury that investigated Sandusky last year. His comments weren't part of the panel's public report, and authorities refused to comment on any testimony, citing grand jury secrecy rules.

Washington County lawyer Chris Blackwell said any testimony Matt Sandusky gave under oath could be problematic if it contradicts what he is now saying.

Blackwell said it is not uncommon for new witnesses to step forward once facts become public.

“Ten more people could come forward and say, ‘He abused us,' and they could pursue on to trial with those 10 new victims,” he said.

McClelland said Matt Sandusky's change of heart once the trial started would have made it risky for prosecutors to use him on the stand.

Bruce Antkowiak, a professor of law and criminology at St. Vincent College and a former federal prosecutor, said the prosecution could have tried to argue that Matt Sandusky's allegations, though not part of the criminal case, were relevant to crimes charged or could have used them to rebut testimony his adoptive father would have given.

“Regardless of how the case turns out, (prosecutors) could charge on this,” Antkowiak said.

Meanwhile, a man with a civil lawsuit pending against Jerry Sandusky spoke out yesterday. In a lawsuit filed in state court in Philadelphia in November, shortly after Sandusky was charged, Travis Weaver alleged that Sandusky sexually assaulted him starting at age 10. He said he was abused on campus, at Sandusky's home and on a trip to the Rose Bowl in California. Weaver, 30, is named as John Doe in his civil lawsuit, but his lawyer, Jeff Anderson, said he was ready to make his name public. In an interview with NBC's “Rock Center with Brian Williams,” Weaver said Sandusky abused him more than 100 times over four years starting in 1992. He said he thought he was the only one until he saw Sandusky on the news, arrested on charges of molesting other boys.

Debra Erdley and Adam Smeltz are staff writers for Trib Total Media. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

 
 


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