Jerry Sandusky Scandal

'Highly incriminating' evidence: Details of meeting involving attorneys in Jerry Sandusky trial unsealed

Judge John Cleland walks into the courthouse with a Centre County sheriff's deputy Thursday, June 21, 2012, for the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse trial, at the Centre County Courthouse, in Bellefonte, Pa. Nabil K. Mark
Judge John Cleland walks into the courthouse with a Centre County sheriff's deputy Thursday, June 21, 2012, for the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse trial, at the Centre County Courthouse, in Bellefonte, Pa. Nabil K. Mark Centre Daily Times

Jerry Sandusky’s jury never heard the full case against him, which contained a “great deal” of “highly incriminating” evidence.

That’s according to what Chief Deputy Attorney General Frank Fina told the judges overseeing the Sandusky case and the grand jury investigation late in June as they were discussing how a confidential audio interview with Sandusky’s adopted son Matt got into the hands of NBC. Fina called the meeting, hoping to get the judge to sign a protective order guaranteeing materials not introduced at trial, like Matt Sandusky’s interview, would not be released.

The transcript of that closed-door hearing on June 26 at the State College branch of the Attorney General’s Office was unsealed Wednesday because it may be part of an appeal by one of the defense attorneys.

According to the transcript, Fina didn’t go into detail about the “highly incriminating” evidence, but he said the protective order would cover things such as investigative reports that contain references to named and unnamed victims in the case as well as potential victims.

“It’s not in the interest of Mr. Sandusky to have, you know, additional incriminating information being revealed to the public,” Fina said. “I’m talking about incriminating information beyond that which was presented during the trial. There’s a great deal of that in the discovery — evidence that, for a variety of reasons, the commonwealth did not utilize but that was highly incriminating of Mr. Sandusky.”

The leaked police interview with Matt Sandusky aired on NBC’s Today Show during the trial. In the interview, the son said his adoptive father molested him. The revelation of the allegation to the defense deterred Jerry Sandusky from testifying.

Matt Sandusky’s attorneys confirmed the interview was with their client, and the police investigator also confirmed the authenticity of the interview.

As to who leaked the recording to NBC, that’s still unknown, according to what the attorneys told the judges. Three copies existed — prosecutors have one, the defense has one and state police have one.

Defense attorney Joe Amendola said he never listened to the tape. 

He got it, but because of volume of materials he said he was reviewing each night for trial the next day, he had his co-counsel, Karl Rominger, review it. Rominger said he did not make a copy of the recording.

After the hearing, Judge John Cleland granted the prosecution’s request for a protective order. But he also went further — telling the defense to give him, under oath, a list of everyone they shared discovery materials with as well as what materials they shared.

Rominger is appealing the order, arguing that those records are a work product and they can’t be made to turn them over. He also said the judge’s order went beyond what the sides agreed to.

Also during the hearing, Rominger raised another media leak issue — that reporters told him they had seen emails from former Penn State President Graham Spanier and handwritten notes from former Penn State administrators Tim Curley and Gary Schultz. CNN reported the text of the emails in late June.

Nothing like that was introduced at trial, but notes Schultz made and emails among the three university leaders were released in the Louis Freeh report that blames them and Joe Paterno for concealing abuse allegations against Sandusky for fear of bad publicity.

“I find it fascinating that these media members can quote specifically out of those materials, which are not in the public record, which are grand jury material,” Rominger said.

Fina said that was a “significant concern” as well and said Penn State also had copies of them. But Penn State having them is beyond his control, he said.

Penn State had refused to make those records available, even to Spanier, who sued the university in an attempt to see his emails before meeting with Freeh’s investigators.

Meanwhile, Sandusky, 68, remains in the Centre County Correctional Facility awaiting his sentencing on 45 of 48 counts of child sexual abuse. Barring a successful appeal, he will spend the rest of his life behind bars in a state prison.

Mike Dawson can be reached at 231-4616. Follow him on Twitter @MikeDawsonCDT