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The Sandusky Trial - The Aftermath

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Jerry Sandusky is in jail. I realize that sentence seems blindingly obvious, but given the conversations had around these parts over the last week, it bears repeating. On June 22, 2012, former Penn State defensive coordinator and Second Mile founder Jerry Sandusky was convicted on forty-five countsof child sexual abuse. Since then, Sandusky has been confined in isolation in Centre County jail, where he will stay until he is psychologically evaluated. Sandusky, currently on suicide watch as a precautionary measure, has apparently been "antsy"while awaiting his eventual move to the facility's general population, where he would be on a block with only a few other inmates, according to defense attorney Karl Rominger.

Sandusky will remain in Centre County jail until sentencing, scheduled for late September. From there, he will first be taken to the State Correctional Institution at Camp Hill for classification, and then possibly moved to another permanent location. Senior Judge John M. Cleland will have some discretion over Sandusky's fate, although he faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 60 years in state prison. A maximum of 442 years could be imposed based on the forty-five count verdict.

Appeals. Sandusky's first shot at appealing the decision against him won't take place until after sentencing, apparently on the theory of ineffective assistance of counsel.

Sandusky's defense team plans to file a motion for appeal, claiming he had ineffective counsel, defense attorney Karl Rominger said Sunday. Under Pennsylvania law, that motion cannot be filed until after sentencing.

If Cleland agrees to a hearing on the motion, lead defense attorney Joe Amendola would step aside and appear as a witness, the attorney said. Rominger said either he or another attorney would argue the motion.

The appellate claim will be based on Amendola's "talking to the media," Rominger said. And a linchpin of the appeal will be prosecutor Joe McGettigan's statements during his closing argument, when he told jurors that Sandusky could have proclaimed his innocence during an interview with NBC's Bob Costas. That violates Sandusky's right to post-arrest trial silence, Rominger said.

Let me save you the trouble - Judge Cleland will almost certainly reject this argument outright, noting that any alleged error or issue is overwhelmed by the evidence against Sandusky. That will most likely lead to a broader appeal to one of Pennsylvania's two intermediate appellate courts. There, the defense team is likely to raise the issue of trial timing, arguing that they received a tremendous amount of discovery with virtually no time to review and prepare because Judge Cleland had refused to grant any further continuances. In fact, Rominger told the media that he and Joseph Amendola, the lead defense counsel, had attempted to withdraw as counsel prior to trial. Any reversal on appeal is highly unlikely, despite the defense's hopes and public statements to the contrary.

Next up? Immediately after the verdict, Penn State released a formal statement accepting some responsibility for Sandusky's horrific behavior, emphasizing the institution's desire to settle claims privately.

The University has already established a confidential counseling process for victims of Mr. Sandusky's conduct, and that process remains open. (For further information, please visit http://live.psu.edu/story/58590.) While counseling is critical, some victims have sought and continue to seek a direct dialogue with the University to discuss the University's responsibility for Mr. Sandusky's actions.

Now that the jury has spoken, the University wants to continue that dialogue and do its part to help victims continue their path forward. To that end, the University plans to invite victims of Mr. Sandusky's abuse to participate in a program to facilitate the resolution of claims against the University arising out of Mr. Sandusky's conduct.

The purpose of the program is simple - the University wants to provide a forum where the University can privately, expeditiously and fairly address the victims' concerns and compensate them for claims relating to the University. Counsel to the University plan to reach out to counsel to the victims of Mr. Sandusky's abuse in the near future with additional details.

Beyond the impending civil suits and multi-million dollar settlements, Penn State still has two major events upcoming that are related to the Sandusky Scandal - the trial of former administrators Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, and the release of the report of the internal investigation conducted by a team led by former FBI Director Louis Freeh.

A trial date has yet to be set for Curley and Schultz, who face perjury and failure to report charges. A pre-trial hearing has been scheduled for tomorrow, July 11th, at 1 PM in Dauphin County. Presumably, any open issues relating to discovery will be discussed and trial will be scheduled.

We shall be "Freeh." While the Curley and Schultz issues proceed at a glacial pace, leaks relating to the internal investigation are occurring at a rapid pace. Surprisingly enough, these leaks are mostly unrelated to the Sandusky incident that occurred in February 2001. Instead, these leaks center around accusations that former head coach Joe Paterno attempted to strong arm the university into allowing him sole discretion over the discipline of football players. These accusations appear to come from Vicky Triponey, a former Penn State administrator who has, to put it mildly, a less than impressive track record.

Since Dr. Vicky Triponey assumed leadership in Summer of 2003 of Penn State's Office of Student Affairs, she has systematically dismantled long standing institutions of student representation. With the help of a few well-placed student allies as well as unknowing facilitators, Student Affairs is consolidating all meaningful authority traditionally held by students.

Triponey herself will tell a different tale, but the facts don't lie. Without viable avenues for dissent, students are now left entirely at the mercy of an administration whose interests often run counter to those of its students.

The Freeh Report is expected to be released as early as the end of this week. It would be irresponsible for me to speculate on the contents of that report and the validity of any leaks. I will not do so here. Instead, this blog will wait for the public release of the investigative findings and respond with thoughtful, logical, and coherent commentary that places all perceived events into the full context - something that has been sorely lacking from most media outlets and commentators in recent weeks.

Finally, a note from all of us on staff. We realize that the past month has been extremely emotional, and any news that has been leaked over the past week has provoked an impassioned response from this community. We're glad to be a place where Penn Staters (and their friends) can share their thoughts on all of the issues before us. Please be respectful to each other and any visitors who may come our way.


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