BELLEFONTE — Connie Boland, a guidance counselor and Penn State graduate, had sent some of her own students to The Second Mile.
So when there was the possibility of hearing its founder, Jerry Sandusky, testify, she took it.
But, like everyone else who wanted to hear Sandusky’s version of events, she left disappointed Wednesday. The defense rested its case without calling Sandusky.
Boland said that when that happened, she felt like she “had gotten punched in the gut again.”
“I just wanted to see him. I was hoping he was going to take the stand today, and I wanted to hear what he had to say in his defense,” she said.
When Boland first learned of the charges, she wondered whether she had sent someone where they could get hurt. But, as far as she knows, none of her students was involved. The program itself, she said, was great.
Along with reporters, local residents and some out-of-towners have been filling the courtroom — there were seats for 85 members of the public, and the courtroom looked full Wednesday.
“I was disappointed, but not surprised,” said Becky Caplan, of State College. “I would’ve liked to hear what he had to say.”
Caplan’s friend and neighbor, Kathy Niles, said testifying likely would have hurt Sandusky’s case.
The two had tried to get in court for Wednesday’s late-morning session, but did not make it in. They planned to try again today.
Victims advocates and attorneys have also been closely following the case.
Christopher Anderson, executive director of MaleSurvivor, said he wasn’t surprised Sandusky didn’t testify on his own behalf.
“Given some of the statements that we’ve been hearing and obviously things we heard from the prosecutor back in the fall, it’s a question of whether he might have done himself more harm in taking the stand,” Anderson said.
Some students who didn’t attend the court proceedings said they watched the news and had their own opinions of the potential outcome.
Desiree Valentine, of Boalsburg, was eating lunch Wednesday at Talleyrand Park and said she wouldn’t make her own prediction, but that others will.
“I’m guessing most people know what the verdict should be,” she said.
Valentine, a first-year graduate student at Penn State, said she has watched the Sandusky news while at the gym and, while it hasn’t impacted her directly, has watched it affect others.
Ashley Bercaw, a high school junior, and Claire Boyle, an eighth-grader, this week are visiting their siblings who are Penn State students.
From the Philadelphia area, they’ve heard plenty of talk about the case, most of it judging Sandusky guilty. They said they agree.
“I can’t imagine him being not guilty with the victims coming forward,” Bercaw said.
Tom Kline, attorney for alleged victim No. 5, said he would have expected a direct refutation of the charges at some point and for Sandusky to take the stand.
“As the case set up there was great expectation that built up and I would think among jurors, because jurors are thinking like we’re thinking, that Mr. Sandusky is going to come to the stand and he is going to put his best foot forward,” Kline said. “While he doesn’t have to testify — I think every American knows that — he said he would come to the witness stand and say this didn’t happen.”
Anne Danahy can be reached at 231-4648. Follow her on Twitter @AnneDanahy
Jessica VanderKolk can be reached at 235-3910. Follow her on Twitter @jVanReporter