The Penn State trial ended on Wednesday with a whimper and without hearing from the man around whom the case is about— the defendant, Jerry Sandusky. In what was a smart legal move, the defense rested without calling its star witness, Jerry Sandusky. Sandusky’s prior spoken appearances about the Penn state scandal have not been favorable to him. And for lawyers to have called him would amount to legal suicide. Yet, in the small Penn State community, many persons are upset that he did not take the stand to explain what happened. One woman who sent students to the Second Mile Charity arrived at 3:00 a.m. to ensure a seat in the courtroom. She wanted to hear Jerry Sandusky’s explanation. And therein is the problem. There is no explaining in the world to explain away why the boys, now young men, would lie about Sandusky having oral, anal and inappropriate sexual touching and fondling of them.
The jurors will be instructed that Sandusky’s failure to testify cannot be held against him. But, most of the Penn State jurors, those seven jurors with close ties to Penn State, still want to probably hear Sandusky’s side of the story to give him the benefit of the doubt. That was the double edged sword for Sandusky. He’s doomed if he testifies and doomed if he doesn’t explain away the circumstances. For all of Sandusky’s pre-trial talking, at the end of the day, Jerry Sandusky remained silent. And that’s his legal right.
Sandusky’s defense amounted to witnesses who spoke about a nice man who was playful, even with taking showers with boys. His defense team spoke about how this whole thing was a conspiracy by the police and some of the media to fabricate lies against poor Jerry. One young man who met Sandusky through the Second Mile testified that Sandusky never did anything inappropriate to him in five years. No one ever said he sexually abused every boy he came into contact.
Sandusky’s wife, “Dottie” testified that she never recalled anything inappropriate in her home with Sandusky and the boys. We all know a wife never lies to keep her husband out of jail. Just ask George Zimmerman’s wife, Shellie, who now faces perjury for lying under oath to stand by her man. A psychologist spoke about how Jerry Sandusky is misunderstood with his ways of dealing with people and writing what amounts to love letters to boys. That only helps him with the “creepy” love letters he sent one boy. And there were some points scored about inconsistencies in testimony by Mike McQueary, who witnessed Sandusky and a shower incident with one of the boys. At the end of the day, the Sandusky defense has an uphill battle to win an acquittal.
Now, the Penn State jurors must soon deliberate and right the wrong that was done to these boys. That will be the only way for the Penn State community to heal from these devastating accounts. Jerry Sandusky faces 51 counts and over a hundred years in jail. If convicted, he will probably spend the rest of his life in jail. If he is convicted, he deserves everything he’s got coming to him—and more.
Washington, DC based Debbie Hines is a former prosecutor and founder of LegalSpeaks, a progressive blog on women and race in law and politics. As a legal and political commentator she has appeared in national and local media including the Michael Eric Dyson Show, NBC, ABC and CBS affiliates, RT TV, CBC- Canadian TV, NPR, XM Sirius radio, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, USA Today, Black Enterprise among others. She also writes for the Huffington Post.