STATE COLLEGE — Jerry Sandusky took out a $25,000 mortgage on his home last fall as investigators continued a far-reaching child sex abuse investigation against the former Penn State assistant football coach.
Likening Sandusky’s potential financial exposure to that of priests in the Catholic church scandal, some lawyers say the money was more than likely used to pay his attorney.
“Where else are you going to get the money from?” asked Renee Rockwell, a criminal defense attorney from Atlanta. “What is he going to do? Have a bake sale?”
Sandusky’s 2,700-square-foot, five-bedroom, four-bath house sits on an idyllic street behind Lemont Elementary School, with a view of Beaver Stadium. It has an assessed value of $96,000, according to county tax records. Assessed values in Centre County are 50 percent of the market value as of 1994, the year before the last countywide reassessment.
The mortgage, dated Nov. 1, 2010, was taken out about eight months before Sandusky’s former boss, head coach Joe Paterno, sold his home to his wife in July for $1 — a transaction that Rockwell said could be an effort to protect Paterno’s assets from potential civil suits.
Sandusky is charged with sexually abusing at least eight boys over a 15-year period who he met through the Second Mile charity, which he founded in 1977 to help underprivileged children.
With the potential for civil suits in addition to the criminal charges, Sandusky could be facing a legal bill in excess of $400,000, experts said.
Police and investigators likely are still compiling evidence and talking with potential victims, said Peter Odom, a former New Hampshire assistant attorney general and child sex abuse prosecutor. Odom said Sandusky likely didn’t help his legal case by admitting on national television earlier this week that he was naked in the shower with the boys.
“Just the mere allegations are so powerful,” Odom said. “It’s going to be very expensive to defend.”
Neighbors in Sandusky’s quiet College Township community said they can’t escape the scandal. Township Council on Thursday closed off parking on the street in an effort to cut access to nonresidents. Jason McKenzie, who lives two streets from Sandusky, said the accusations have been a gut check for a neighborhood he described as “an almost ‘Leave it to Beaver’ ” place.
“It seemed like a town where nothing really went wrong in a serious way,” McKenzie, said. “Now something went wrong in a very, very serious way.”