Jerry Sandusky will be allowed supervised visits with his grandchildren while out on bail, a judge ruled this morning.
Senior Judge John M. Cleland granted the defense’s motion to modify Sandusky’s bail, which also allows him visits with up to 12 close family friends and to leave his home with his defense team in preparation for trial.
Prosecutors argued against the motion and sought tougher bail restrictions – keeping him confined to his house except to seek medical treatment. They raised concerns from neighbors of Sandusky and said he was seen on his back porch watching children playing outside Lemont Elementary School.
Both sides argued their case during a hearing Friday.
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Cleland wrote that the prosecutors didn’t provide any evidence that Sandusky is a “clearly defined threat” to the students at the school nor did they provide evidence he tried to contact the students.
“The generalized concerns of parents, while understandable, cannot justify additional bail restrictions in the absence of some evidence from the Commonwealth that the Defendant’s presence or behavior on his deck presents a danger to the community,” he wrote.
Cleland said Sandusky can have supervised visits and other forms of contact – such as by Skype – with the grandchildren who are not part of a custody case. The judge on the custody case will rule if Sandusky can have visits and contact with those three grandchildren.
The judge wrote that all but one of the parents of Sandusky’s grandchildren have asked that their grandfather be able to visit with them.
Jill Thomas, the mother of three of Sandusky's grandchildren, issued a statement Monday saying she doesn't think it's safe for her three children to be around Sandusky.
"I cannot understand how a court could place the desires of someon who is criminally charged with sexually abusing children above the safety of children," the statement reads in part.
Sandusky has to provide 36 hours’ notice to leave with his defense team.
In a statement, Sanduksy's attorney, Joe Amendola, said the Sanduskys are "very relieved and pleased" the judge is allowing Sandusky to have contact with his grandchildren.
The Lemont school is behind the Sandusky property in College Township.
State College Area School District spokeswoman Julie Miller said the district continues to monitor the safety of students and district employees and is working to minimize disruptions.
"Faculty and staff at Lemont Elementary have indicated they feel comfortable with the security measures in place, and have not experienced disruptions during the school day," she said. "Our goal is to continue to provide a safe and secure environment focused on teaching and learning."