Jerry Sandusky Scandal

Jerry Sandusky juror about victims: ‘I found them believable’

Jurors arrive in a bus at the courthouse for the second day of the deliberation, Friday, June 22, 2012, in the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse trial, at the Centre County Courthouse, in Bellefonte, Pa.  Centre Daily Times/Nabil K. Mark
Jurors arrive in a bus at the courthouse for the second day of the deliberation, Friday, June 22, 2012, in the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse trial, at the Centre County Courthouse, in Bellefonte, Pa. Centre Daily Times/Nabil K. Mark

The jurors who found Jerry Sandusky guilty of 45 of the 48 counts of child sex abuse he was facing arrived at their decision in a methodical way, taking their time to go through their notes and assessing the credibility of each victim before reaching a verdict, according to a member of the jury.

Josh Harper said the jurors relied heavily on their notes to look at what each of the eight victims who testified said, what had happened and make a determination.

“I found them believable,” he said of the victims. “I never once said, ‘He’s lying.’ ”

Listening to that testimony, a pattern began to emerge, Harper said.

Members of the jury appeared to listen attentively throughout the eight-day trial, with many taking notes. Deliberations lasted more than 20 hours and included the jury asking to hear the testimony of Mike McQueary, who walked in on Sandusky naked in a Penn State shower with a boy, and Jonathan Dranov, the family friend McQueary told about the incident in addition to his father.

There were some discrepancies in the testimony McQueary and Dranov gave. Dranov, for instance, said Mc- Queary said he saw an arm pull the boy back into the shower, while McQueary said he didn’t say that.

Harper said he didn’t need to hear the testimony again, but there were other jurors who did. He said the jury felt the discrepancy between what McQueary and Dranov said did not seem to be very big.

The jury also asked Senior Judge John Cleland to repeat his instructions regarding hearsay and circumstantial evidence. “Why would they lie?” Harper

said of McQueary and the janitor who told his co-workers about finding Sandusky performing oral sex on a boy.

The janitor, who is now mentally infirm, was unable to testify. Cleland did allow a coworker to testify about what the janitor said he had seen.

If those accounts were true, then Sandusky was capable of the acts he was accused of and the boys — now young men — were probably telling the truth, Harper said.

“I certainly wrestled with some doubt,” Harper said. “I could never bring myself to the point of saying it was reasonable doubt.”

Instead, there were minor inconsistencies.

He said the defense posed two competing conspiracy theories: one, that the men were out for financial gain; the other that the police and attorney general had targeted Sandusky.

You can’t have both, Harper said.

He said Sandusky’s decision not to testify didn’t affect his conclusion. Likewise, if Sandusky had testified, Harper said he’s not sure it would have mattered — Sandusky would have denied the charges.

The testimony by Dottie Sandusky did not sway the jury either.

“We thought it was basically useless ... it was very vague,” Harper said. “She said ‘I don’t know’ a lot.”

He said he was very impressed with Cleland from the beginning.

“He was the right man for the job,” he said.

Harper, a physics and chemistry teacher at Bellefonte Area High School, said he sees serving on a jury as a civic duty. He plans to catch up on his rest and will teach at a summer program for high school students at Penn State where someone else had been filling in for him.

Anne Danahy can be reached at 231-4648. Follow her on Twitter @AnneDanahy

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