Jerry Sandusky, the former Pennsylvania State University assistant football coach charged with sexually abusing 10 boys, will be allowed supervised visits with his grandchildren, a judge ruled, denying prosecutors’ requests for stricter limitations.
Sandusky, who is under home confinement, asked the court last month to modify his bail conditions so he may have visits with his 11 grandchildren, entertain friends and leave his home to help locate potential defense witnesses. State court Judge John M. Cleland in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, today granted the request, excluding visits with three grandchildren who are subject to custody litigation.
“The conditions of bail must always be analyzed bearing in mind the presumption of innocence and the purposes of bail,” Cleland said in his ruling.
Sandusky, 68, a former defensive coordinator for Penn State, is charged with more than 50 counts stemming from alleged abuse of boys over a 15-year period. He waived a preliminary hearing in December. Cleland last week set a tentative trial date of May 14.
Witness Names Denied
Cleland today also denied the state’s request for an out-of-county jury and ordered prosecutors to answer Sandusky’s request for information detailing the alleged offenses. He denied Sandusky’s request for the names, addresses and dates of birth of potential prosecution witnesses. The defense has already been given the names of Sandusky’s accusers.
Nils Frederiksen, a spokesman for Attorney General Linda Kelly, said the rulings are “under review.”
Joseph Amendola, an attorney for Sandusky, applauded the rulings as “fair and consistent.”
“Jerry pursued visitation with his grandkids because they missed him and wanted to see him and communicate with him,” Amendola said in an e-mailed statement.
“Jerry is also happy he can now have visitation with long time friends with the prior approval of the probation department and will be able to continue to use the deck to his home to exercise, care for and supervise his dog Bo,” Amendola said in the statement.
Prosecutors had asked Cleland to impose new conditions confining Sandusky to inside his home after neighbors complained about the proximity of his residence to an elementary school. Prosecutors also said the ex-wife of Sandusky’s son Matthew didn’t want her three children having contact with the former coach.
Not a Threat
Cleland said he would allow the judge in the custody case to make the decision about Matthew Sandusky’s children. Cleland told Sandusky to provide the probation department with a list of as many as 12 people he wants authorized to visit. The program coordinator at the probation department may approve all, some or none of the names, Cleland said.
The state failed to present evidence that Sandusky poses a threat to students at the nearby school, Cleland said.
“The generalized concerns of parents, while understandable, cannot justify additional bail restrictions in the absence of some evidence from the commonwealth that the defendant’s presence or behavior on his deck presents a danger to the community,” Cleland wrote in a 13-page order.
Prosecutors say Sandusky is a serial child molester who used a charity he founded for needy children to recruit victims, grooming them with gifts, trips to Penn State football games and money before molesting them.
Penn State Firings
The case led to last year’s firings of university President Graham Spanier and coach Joe Paterno, who headed the football program at Penn State for 46 years. Paterno died last month.
Penn State Athletics Director Timothy Curley and former Vice President Gary Schultz, who oversaw the university police, have been charged with lying to a grand jury about a 2002 sex-abuse allegation against Sandusky and failing to report the incident to police.
Lawyers for Curley today filed court papers seeking to dismiss the perjury charge because Paterno has died.
The prosecution’s case against Curley “fails as no other facts or witnesses were presented at the preliminary hearing to establish corroboration,” Caroline Roberto, one of Curley’s lawyers, wrote in court papers.
Another judge in December ordered the case against Curley and Schultz to trial after Penn State assistant football coach Mike McQueary testified at a hearing that he told the two officials he’d seen Sandusky with a 10-year-old boy in a locker room in March 2002.
The two are free on $75,000 bail.
At the December hearing, prosecutors read into the record Paterno’s seven-minute testimony before a grand jury in January 2011. Paterno testified he was told the incident was of a “sexual nature.” He said he reported McQueary’s allegations to Curley within a week.
The case is Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Sandusky, CP-14-2422-2011, Court of Common Pleas, Centre County, Pennsylvania (Bellefonte).