Tree Climbers: Bearing Witness-The Trial of Jerry Sandusky (Day 7)
This is going to be a shorter diary than usual, because the defense rested it’s case today after about 40 minutes of testimony. I am also working on an in-depth analysis of the case in it’s entirety, which will be posted at some point either tonight or tomorrow. But in the meantime, here is a rundown of what happened during day 7 of Commonwealth v. Sandusky.
Before we began Judge Cleland announced that Juror #6 had fallen ill. She was replaced by alternate #13, who is a mother and a Penn State graduate.
The first witness to take the stand was Dr. Jonathan Dranoff
Dr. Dranoff was a friend and co-worker of John McQueary (father of Mike McQueary) He testified about the night in December 2001 when Mike McQueary walked in on Sandusky in a locker room on the Penn State campus sexually abusing a boy who was around 10 years old. Defense attorney Romminger asked Dranoff to describe the night in question.
Dranoff said that when he arrived at the McQueary home, Mike was visably shaken and upset. His voice was trembling and his hands were shaking. He told Dr. Dranoff that he had gone into the locker room to put away a pair of sneakers when he heard what he described as “sexual sounds”. Dr. Dranoff asked him what he meant by “sexual sounds” but McQueary would not elaborate. He told Dranoff that he had looked towards the showers and made eye contact with a child-who he claimed did not look upset or frightened. Then, he saw an arm pull him back into the shower. He went back to his locker and then turned around and faced the shower one last time, and saw Jerry Sandusky.
Dranoff testified that Mike McQueary did not give him a “graphic description” of what he saw, even though he asked him at least three times “what did you see?”. Both Dr. Dranoff and McQueary Senior told Mike to report this incident to Joe Paterno. At no point did he consider calling 911.
For the most part, this matches up with Mike McQueary’s testimony-other than the part about the boy looking at him and the arm pulling him away.
Mr. Lash is an employee of the Second Mile, and was called to provide evidence that, contrary to what he said under oath, Mike McQueary participated in 2 celebrity golf tournaments sponsored by The Second Mile and organized by Jerry Sandusky. McQueary said in his testimony that he had avoided contact with Sandusky after the locker room incident, and denied participating in the Golf Tournaments. Mr. Lash produced records-including a roster, a photograph, and a “Thank You” letter that was mailed out to all participants in the tournament that had been sent to Mike McQueary, showing that he had participated in June of 2001 (a few months after the incident) and June of 2003.
If you have been following this case, you probably know the name Sara Ganim. She is the 24 year old crime reporter from the Patriot-News who first broke the Sandusky story. She has since won a Pulitzer Prize for her coverage of the scandal. Sara has been a mainstay in the Centre County courthouse, so we were all surprised when we heard that she had been served a subpoena yesterday. Her lawyer had moved to have the subpoena quashed, and it was left up in the air as to whether or not she would be required to testify.
The purpose of her testimony would have been for the defense to prove that she had sent an email to the mother of Victim #5, giving him the name of the investigator involved with the case. Amendola had argued in his motion yesterday that this was proof of a larger circle of influence around the victims, and that many people had a vested interest in this case. Her attorney argued that requiring her to testify would have been a constitutional violation, because she would be forced to reveal confidential sources.
Sara did not come when called to the stand, and the judge called for a sidebar. After about 20 minutes, the issue was resolved by the prosecution stipulating that if she took the stand, Sara Ganim would have been asked if she had sent the email in question and would have answered “yes”.
Sara, for her part, had a different take:
I am not quite sure why McGeddigan agreed to a stipulation under these circumstances.
Chad Resgrove (Character Witness)
Chad Resgrove is a 35 year old Landscaper who attended the Second Mile between ages 10 and 15. He first came into contact with Jerry Sandusky after a school assignment where he was asked to write to someone he admired. He wrote to Sandusky, Joe Paterno, and all of the Penn State football team. Along with a few of the football players, Jerry wrote back to him. From there, they began talking over the phone and eventually he began spending the night at his house and going to football games with him.
My impression of Mr. Resgrove is that he sounded very rehearsed. It was clear that the defense had coached him on what points he should emphasize. For example, by my count he mentioned that he was raised by a single mother and didn’t have a father around 12 times during his 15 minute testimony. The point he was trying to make was pretty clear-he fit the profile of Sandusky’s victims (or accusers, as the defense would call them) but according to his testimony, Jerry Sandusky was never inappropriate with him. He treated him like a “father figure” (another word he used almost a dozen times). At a couple points, he started to answer Karl Rommingers questions before they were even asked! For example, whenever the defense has called a character witness they always ask the question “do you talk to people who know Jerry Sandusky?” followed up by “what was Jerry Sandusky’s reputation in terms of him being law abiding, honest, moral and nonviolent”. But after Mr. Restgrove was asked if he talked to people who knew Sandusky, he immediately launched into a monologue about how great his reputation was.
On cross, Restgrove said that he met Sandusky around 1987, and that when he stayed the night at the Sandusky home he slept in the basement bedroom (where victim #1 and #9 were abused) He said that he had never taken a shower with him.
In closing, Romminger asked if there was anything else he wanted to say. He looked straight at Jerry and said, with a huge smile on his face, “I just want to thank him for everything he has done for me, and for other people”
David Hilton (Character Witness)
David Hilton took the stand next. He is 23 years old, and met Jerry Sandusky through the Second Mile program. He testified that he spent the night at his home over 50 times, and once took a week-long trip with him to San Francisco. He also called Sandusky a father figure, and said that he helped him academically since both of his parents were deaf. Sandusky would often “ride” him about his schoolwork, and also bought him a gym membership and helped him get his first job.Romminger asked Mr. Hilton if he had ever been interviewed by the police. He said that he had on 3 occasions. The first interview was fine, he said, and fairly relaxed. However, during the next 2 interviews the police were pushy. He said they were aggressive in their questioning, and that he felt that they wanted him to say something that wasn’t true. They also allegedly told him that if he was lying to them, he would be charged with a felony. He insisted that nothing inappropriate had ever happened.
On cross-examination, District Attorney Joe McGeddigan asked Mr. Hilton if he had ever showered with Jerry Sandusky. Mr. Hilton said he had not. He asked him if he had an uncle in Maine, and if he was aware that this uncle had called the District Attorney’s office after Sandusky was arrested. Mr. Hilton began to squirm around in his chair a bit, and said that he was aware that he had called but didn’t know the details. McGeddigan informed him that this was the reason that he had been interviewed by detectives-because his uncle was concerned that something had happened. “One more question” McGeddigan said. “Are you aware that he called us again last night?”
Mr. Hilton said that he wasn’t.
The Defense Rests
After Mr. Hilton was excused from the witness stand, we were let out for what we were told was to be a 30 minute recess. Instead, it lasted an hour and 45 minutes. Many in the courtroom were speculating that a plea deal may have been in the works-but when court was re-adjourned, Amendola informed the court that the defense rested its case. Court was adjourned until tomorrow morning at 9 AM, at which point the jury will be given it’s instructions and we will hear closing arguments.Later, I found out why there was such a long delay. Jerry Sandusky wanted to take the stand in his own defense-his lawyers managed to talk him out of it.
I don’t think much was accomplished today by the defense. The fact that McQueary did appear to go to those golf tournaments may damage his credibility a bit-but the testimony of Dr. Dranoff only confirms the validity of his story. The fact that he remembers him being so visibly shaken by what he had seen is powerful circumstantial evidence. It also matches up nicely with the Ronald Petrosky’s testimony about how he found James Calhoun-the Penn State janitor who (Possibly triggering) caught Sandusky performing oral sex on an underage boy in the locker room. Petrosky testified that when he saw Calhoun he was white as a ghost and trembling-and that he was concerned the man might have a heart attack.
On the other hand, the testimony of Mr. Hilton could potentially be damaging, because he is alleging that the police used coercive tactics. The testimony by the 2 state troopers yesterday was a huge blow to the prosecution, and this bolsters the defense theory that the charges were the result of an over-zealous investigation in which stories of abuse were “planted” on the victims.
Oh, by the way…
Pedobear gave a press conference
Yes, ladies and gentleman, it has come to this. Pedobear showed up and gave a press conference.
It just so happened that this afternoon, after court let out, I finally worked up the nerve to do an on-camera interview. I hate being on video, but I felt it was important to get our message out there-and I found a reporter who seemed interested in our story. We were just getting situated outside when he looked at something behind me and said “sorry, hang tight I need to get some footage of this”
Footage of the fucking PEDO BEAR press conference. He never came back to interview me.