A Centre County jury will hear the child sex abuse case against Jerry Sandusky, a judge ruled this morning.
Senior Judge John M. Cleland denied prosecutors’ request to bring in out-of-county jurors.
Prosecutors had argued that the intense publicity surrounding the case and residents’ deep connection to Penn State would taint a potential jury pool. Sandusky and his attorney argued they want an in-county jury and disagreed with the prosecution’s rationale.
They laid out their arguments during a hearing Friday.
In his order, Cleland said it’s not possible to know if a potential juror can be fair until he or she is asked.
“I am not persuaded the Commonwealth has established the factual predicate to reach a conclusion that the ‘the most imperative grounds’ support granting its motion, especially since the Defendant objects,” Cleland wrote. “The presumption should be in favor of at least making an effort to select a fair and impartial jury in the county where the Defendant has been charged.”
He did acknowledge that jury selection may present some challenges, and “if, after a reasonable attempt it is apparent that a jury cannot be selected within a reasonable time, then I will reconsider this ruling,” he wrote.
In a statement Monday, Sandusky's attorney, Joe Amendola, said, "We have always believed a fair and impartial jury can be chosen from the citizens of Centre County."
Senior Deputy Attorney General said Monday prosecutors were reviewing the orders.
Cleland also ruled that the former Penn State assistant coach can see most of his grandchildren while he awaits trial.
Sandusky had sought eased bail restrictions that would allow him access to his grandchildren. In his ruling, the judge said Sandusky can see the children under their parents’ supervision, except for three grandchildren who are the subject of custody litigation.
Prosecutors had sought to have Sandusky confined to his home after hearing complaints from neighbors, but the judge denied that request.