BELLEFONTE — Jerry Sandusky’s defense strategy is becoming clearer.
His attorney, Joe Amendola, argues that the young men who’ve accused the former Penn State
defensive coach of abuse conspired together for financial gain.
Amendola also is arguing they had suffered from mental or behavioral problems before they met Sandusky through The Second Mile. Furthermore, Sandusky’s attorney thinks he can raise doubts about the accusers’ credibility at trial.
Amendola provided a glimpse into those strategies in a pair of pre-trial court filings Thursday in which the underlying message was that he needs access to information he says is critical for preparing the defense.
Amendola was responding to the prosecution’s motion to the judge to stop him from issuing subpoenas to get materials such as psychological evaluations, school records and police reports. In another filing, Amendola asked the judge to force the prosecution to hand over hundreds of pieces of potential evidence as part of the pre-trial discovery process.
Senior Judge John Cleland ruled quickly on both matters Thursday. He denied the prosecution’s motion just a few hours after the defense filed the 21-page response.
Cleland also ordered the prosecution to turn over by the middle of next week the discovery materials requested by the defense. If prosecutors object, they must file a response in writing by Monday.
Any disputes that remain will be heard at a hearing at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Amendola has criticized the prosecution for not providing materials the defense thinks it should have and needs to prepare for trial. But prosecutors have maintained the defense doesn’t have any right to that access.
Thursday, Amendola highlighted specific examples of why he needs the information to do more digging.
One noted that the criminal record of alleged victim No. 10 that prosecutors turned over didn’t include a robbery conviction that the defense came to learn about. He said the prosecution didn’t provide the full criminal history of other alleged victims.
The defense wants police records to investigate a claim that alleged victim No. 1, the Clinton County boy whose report to authorities started the investigation, made a false claim to police about a car crash.
And Amendola said prosecutors gave him just 18 pages of the 1998 Penn State police report that he deduced from other discovery materials should have been 90 pages long.
“The defendant maintains these types of issues and this type of information is critical to the preparation of his defense and is directly related to the credibility of commonwealth witnesses who will testify against him at his trial,” Amendola wrote.
Amendola has been trying to get, so far without success, psychological evaluations of Sandusky’s accusers.
In the subpoenas he served to the Keystone Central and Mifflin County school districts, those evaluations were among the numerous records he requested.
He is hoping the evaluations can counter what he’s expecting to be commonwealth witness testimony that many of the alleged victims suffer from mental health and behavioral problems because of the alleged sexual abuse.
The defense thinks the alleged victims were treated for mental health or behavior problems before they met Sandusky through The Second Mile.
Further, the defense said those records are no longer privileged because the prosecution, Amendola thinks, has obtained copies.
Amendola argued in his filings at the defense strategy that the young men conspired together. Amendola, who has questioned publicly why the alleged victims retained civil attorneys early into the investigation, told the judge that subpoenas have been issued to agencies to get information on any bankruptcy filings and unemployment claims.
Amendola did acknowledge in his filing on Thursday that the prosecution provided him with 200 pages of discovery materials on Monday, but he said he hadn’t reviewed them.
That might make moot some of the discovery requests he made Thursday, he wrote.
They run the gamut, including police and investigative reports, psychological evaluations, Penn State records, Second Mile records, Children and Youth Services records, Facebook accounts and a request for Penn State records about fired associate athletic director Mark Sherburne.
Amendola also asked for copies of interviews of a young man identified as alleged victim No. 4 by investigators from Florida and Texas. Sandusky is alleged to have molested him during Penn State football bowl trips.
The defense is seeking the handwritten statement from Mike McQueary and prosecutors’ communication with the media.
Sandusky remains on house arrest awaiting trial that is scheduled to begin June 5 with jury selection.
Wednesday’s hearing at the Centre County Courthouse is expected to focus on outstanding issues regarding discovery materials as well as motions from local school districts and other organizations to quash the subpoenas they received from the defense.
The Keystone Central and Mifflin County school districts objected to turning over school records such as attendance reports, IQ tests, psychological evaluations and grade reports.
The Second Mile has objected to being subpoenaed to turn over a number of records, too.
Also Thursday, Juniata College filed a motion to quash a defense subpoena seeking records about a background check into Sandusky when he applied to be an assistant football coach in 2010.
Mike Dawson can be reached at 231-4616.