BELLEFONTE — About 50 residents of a small city in southeast Iowa had a surprise today when their tour bus rolled into Bellefonte.
The group’s itinerary showed a trip Plaza Centre Antiques on West High Street, but instead they found a spectacle around the Centre County Courthouse.
“We were just coming to town, and on the way we realized this is where the trial was happening,” said Linda Blankenship of Keokuk, Iowa.
When they realized they were headed straight for the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse trial, the bus buzzed with chatter, Blankenship said.
“We’ve been following it very closely,” said Blankenship’s friend, Vicki Briscoe. “It sickens me.”
Blankenship agreed, and said she worries about sending her grandchildren off to school in light of the allegations.
“Teachers and coaches are supposed to be trustworthy,” she said. “What happens when that trust is broken?”
The women walked back to the bus with several others, and said they were fascinated by the media’s coverage of the trial.
Each said she spent more time walking around the courthouse than the rest of the town, or their original planned destination.
“This is the first time I’ve ever seen anything like this,” said Briscoe, who hails from the city of about 10,000, located where the Des Moines and Mississippi rivers meet.
Blankenship, whose husband is a former race car driver, said she has seen media attention before, “but not like this.”
“This is very out there, out in left field,” she said.
Jim and Hilda Farrell, also of Keokuk, made time to check out the scene. Jim was taking pictures of his wife across the street from the cameras set up on the courthouse lawn.
While they haven’t been following the case as closely, Hilda said they wanted to check out a piece of history.
“It’s fascinating,” she said. “It’s something to tell my kids about when I get home.”