BELLEFONTE — The defense in the Jerry Sandusky case turned to a taped police interview to support the idea that investigators guided an alleged victim’s testimony about what the former Penn State coach did to him.
Sandusky’s attorneys also suggested that financial gain is at play.
During an interview with alleged victim No. 4 in April 2011, a state police trooper told the man that oral sex and rape had occurred between Sandusky and other victims, and he encouraged him to talk about what had happened to him, according to testimony.
It was perhaps the most aggressive move seen by the defense so far in the case that could wrap up by the end of the week. Sandusky’s attorneys also called witnesses who cast aspersions on alleged victim No. 4.
In the taped interview, Cpl. Joe Leiter told the alleged victim that, when it comes to child sex abuse cases, a lot of the time there is progression of abuse.
He went on to say that after touching and feeling “there’s been actual oral sex that’s taken place” with both parties and something classified as “rape that’s occurred.”
Leiter told the alleged victim that “there is a pretty well-defined progression in the way (Sandusky) operated and still operates” and that that progression included oral sex.
“We don’t want you to feel ashamed because you were a victim in this whole thing. What happened, happened,” Leiter said, according to the transcript defense attorney Joe Amendola read.
That part of the April 2011 interview followed a conversation between Leiter and the young man’s attorney, Ben Andreozzi, which took place during a break in the interview when the alleged victim left the room.
The tape was still running though, and Andreozzi asked whether, at some point, during the interview with his client it could be said that investigators have interviewed others who’ve said there was intercourse.
“This is the way he operates,” the officer said, referring to Sandusky.
The defense called Andreozzi to the stand, questioning his motives.
“Would a verdict of guilty in this case favorably impact your client and you in a civil suit?” Amendola asked.
Andreozzi initially said he and his client hadn’t considered filing a claim, but when asked again he acknowledged that a not guilty verdict in the Sandusky case could have a negative impact on a lawsuit.
But he also testified he “never suggested anything” to the man he represents.
He said the alleged victim at the time was in an emotional state.
“He viewed Jerry as a father figure,” he said. “It’s been extremely difficult for him to talk publicly about this.”
Under questioning from Amendola, Leiter and Cpl. Scott Rossman acknowledged that when speaking with potential alleged victims they told them there were others, but they denied influencing their stories or getting into specifics.
Amendola asked them whether they may have influenced what the alleged victims said by telling them others were in a similar situation.
“Did it occur to you when you were doing that that you might be tainting the investigation?” Amendola asked one.
On cross-examination, Leiter told prosecutor Joseph E. McGettigan III he thought his interviewing tactics were appropriate.
The defense also turned to a character witness for Sandusky to question the trustworthiness of alleged victim No. 4.
Megan L. Rash, of Milesburg, said she knew him growing up and that he was known as someone who was “a dishonest person and embellished stories.”
Rash also spoke highly of Second Mile summer camps she went to for about four years.
Dottie Sandusky, who took the stand Tuesday afternoon, also spoke disparagingly of alleged victim 4, saying he was “demanding” and “conniving.”
“He wanted his way and didn’t listen a lot,” he said.
A victims’ advocacy group contested the idea that there is anything wrong with hiring a lawyer in these situations.
“The victims are coming forward to report details that are highly personal and may be embarrassing to disclose,” said Mai Fernandez, executive director of the National Center for Victims of Crime. “It is wise for victims to seek lawyers’ advice on dealing with reporters and media queries, and protecting themselves against the invasions of privacy that accompany such high-profile trials.”
Anne Danahy can be reached at 231-4648. Follow her on Twitter @AnneDanahy