Jerry Sandusky will have 10 days before his trial begins in May to review 581 pages of testimony witnesses gave to a secret grand jury.
On Wednesday, the judge who supervised that grand jury testimony ordered prosecutors to turn over the transcripts to the defense earlier than state law requires. Under the law, a witness’s grand jury testimony isn’t released until after the witness testifies at trial.
But the judge, Barry Feu-dale, said he was persuaded in the “interests of justice” to release the transcripts before the witnesses take the stand. The people who testified before the grand jury investigating allegations of child sex abuse by Sandusky could now be called as witnesses in his trial on charges.
The defense, though, won’t have as much time as they wanted to review the voluminous records.
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Feudale rejected two requests by Sandusky’s attorney, Joe Amendola. One was to get the transcripts before Feb. 28 and another to get them no later than 30 days before the start of trial.
Feudale also turned down the prosecution’s request to keep the transcripts from the defense for even longer. Prosecutors didn’t want to hand them over until a week before the trial starts.
A spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office declined to comment on the ruling.
Amendola said he was “very satisfied” with the judge’s ruling.
The judge ordered that only Sandusky and his counsel will be allowed to see the transcripts.
The defense thinks more than 100 people testified and some may have testified multiple times. While there are 581 pages of testimony, it’s unknown exactly which witnesses and how many the prosecution will call to testify at trial.
So far, the only grand jury testimony in the Sandusky case that’s been released is that of former Nittany Lions head football coach Joe Paterno and former Penn State administrators Tim Curley and Gary Schultz. Their testimony was read word for word during a preliminary hearing in December for Curley and Schultz on charges they lied to the grand jury about their knowledge of one of the alleged abuse cases.
The transcript of that hearing shows the men testified to the grand jury on Jan. 12, 2011.
Paterno’s testimony was read first, and his testimony took up five pages of the transcript for the preliminary hearing. Curley’s testimony was about 26 pages, and Schultz’s was about 32 pages.
Curley and Schultz maintain their innocence and have asked a judge to drop their cases.
Others who have testified to the grand jury include the 10 accusers; former Penn State wide receivers coach Mike McQueary; former Centre County prosecutor Karen Arnold; Debra Long, the biological mother of Sandusky’s adopted son Matthew; Clinton County school district employees; investigators; and former Penn State President Graham Spanier.
The early release of grand jury testimony is among the pre-trial matters attorneys have been debating in court pleadings.
There’s a hearing scheduled for one of them Monday morning in the Centre County Courthouse Annex. It will address the defense’s request for the time, date and location of each of the alleged incidents of child abuse that led to the 52 charges against Sandusky.
Jury selection is slated to start May 14. Court officials have reserved the main courtroom for trial through June 1.
Sandusky remains confined to his home awaiting trial. He denies the allegations.
Mike Dawson can be reached at 231-4616.