BELLEFONTE — Over the years, hundreds of thousands of children went through The Second Mile, but none of them — and none of their counselors or parents — ever came forward with a complaint about Jerry Sandusky, until police began to reach out to them, Sandusky’s attorney argued Thursday.
In his most passionate statements of the trial, Joe Amendola told jurors there was a “chain reaction” of events, starting with one boy and a story that spiraled into an effort by police to show that the former Penn State assistant football coach is a serial pedophile, and that attorneys could profit from it.
“Folks, do we have to get hit in the head with a brick to figure this out? This man’s life is at stake,” said Joe Amendola, Sandusky’s attorney, during a passionate closing argument to the jury that lasted 74 minutes.
Amendola addressed what he said the prosecutors would do: “Tug on your heartstrings” and show pictures of the boys.
“I’ll be the first one to tell you, if he did this he should rot in jail the rest of his life,” Amendola said.
But, Amendola warned the jurors, don’t be fooled and get tied up by the pictures.
Piece by piece, Amendola went through the allegations Sandusky is facing and events around them, trying to chip away at the state’s case by showing the holes in it, a lack of evidence, financial motivations of those involved and police tactics used during a case that was dragging.
Amendola read from a police interview with one of the alleged victims while the case was being investigated:
“We need you to tell us this is what happened,” the police officer told the alleged victim.
“I want you to understand you’re not alone,” the police officer said later.
“I submit to you they’re going to get him hell or high water even if they have to coach witnesses,” Amendola said.
Amendola went through the allegations, saying there is a lack of physical evidence. At times, he addressed specific issues and at other times he said what prosecutors said happened would have been logistically unlikely.
How could he have been rotating children in and out of his house and they didn’t see each other and he still had time for his job? Amendola asked.
“Mr. Sandusky, if you believe their testimony, was a very busy man. How in the world did he work?” Amendola said, referring to the busy schedule Penn State coaches had, compared with the hours of time he must have needed for the alleged abuse.
Amendola said the case against Sandusky started with an alleged victim who wanted to hang out with a friend instead of keeping plans with Sandusky.
To do that, the boy, Amendola said, told his mother Sandusky fondled him, never anticipating the chain of events.
According to a neighbor, the mother remarked that she and her son could make money on it.
Amendola took up the allegations specifically, including those stemming from Penn State assistant former coach Mike McQueary, who testified that he encountered Sandusky naked in a shower with a boy.
“Mike McQueary didn’t do one thing to stop what he said he saw,” Amendola said.
He said McQueary saw something in the shower and made assumptions.
Amendola argued that McQueary assumed what he saw was sexual in nature after hearing the slapping noises. But, he said, McQueary didn’t stop it, even though campus police were just blocks away.
Instead, McQueary spoke with his father and a family friend about it, and then the next day went to Joe Paterno.
Amendola, reaching the end of his closing argument, made a reference to Sandusky’s book, “Touched.”
Amendola said Sandusky’s next book will be called “Slammed,” because that’s what’s happening to him.
Everything Sandusky ever built is gone, including his reputation, Amendola said.
Anne Danahy can be reached at 231-4648. Follow her on Twitter @AnneDanahy