Judgment Day

10.08.12

Sandusky’s Back for His Sentencing—and Facing More Accusers

The convicted ex-coach heads to court Tuesday to hear his sentence. Diane Dimond reports on the new accusers who have stepped forward since the trial—including his own adopted son, whose birth mother speaks exclusively about why Matt Sandusky is remaining silent. Plus, local law enforcement’s fears of keeping Sandusky safe from vengeful attacks, and what he’s been up to in jail.

No matter what sentence is ultimately imposed upon 68-year-old Jerry Sandusky, it seems likely the former Penn State football coach will die in prison. The challenge for local law enforcement tasked with transporting him from the Centre County Correctional Facility to the Bellefonte, Penn., courthouse on Tuesday is to keep him alive long enough to hear the sentence.  

“My big concern is that we get him in and out of there without someone shooting him,” Sheriff Denny Nau told The Daily Beast. “We worry about someone who wasn't necessarily abused by him but abused by someone during their life breaking through. I told my officers, 'We don't need another Jack Ruby here.'" 

There has already been bloodlust directed at Sandusky. In anticipation of the June verdict that found Sandusky guilty of 45 charges of sexual abuse against young boys, hundreds of former abuse victims and local residents converged on the courthouse, waiting until well past 10 p.m. to raucously cheer their approval. Some of the demonstrators carried or held the hands of small children. One told The Daily Beast that evening, “Sandusky should rot in hell. Or let him loose—we'll take care of him!”

The court’s sentencing procedure is mandated by law. First, there will be a determination made about whether Sandusky qualifies to be registered under the Meghan Law as a sexual predator. Given his conviction, it seems like a foregone conclusion, but the designation is important as it will guide the state in how it deals with Sandusky in the unlikely event he is ever released from prison.  

Then, before Senior Judge John Cleland announces his sentencing decision, Sandusky’s victims will be afforded time to give a statement to the court outlining how the crimes have affected their lives. It is unknown how many, if any, of the eight witness/victims (or their family members) will speak.

A statement from the young man designated by the prosecution as Victim No. 1 would be of particular interest as he was the first to reveal to police the prolonged abuse he suffered at the hands of the once influential football coach. This teenager waited through an initially lackluster investigation that took three long years before Sandusky was arrested. His attorney, Slade McLaughlin, told The Daily Beast he is unable to say whether Victim No. 1 will speak at the hearing. The young man, along with his mother and his psychologist, has written a book, Silent No More: Victim Number 1’s Fight for Justice Against Jerry Sandusky, which is set to be released later this month. There is supposition that, while the young man might attend the hearing, he would hold back public comment so as not to hurt his book sales. 

Attorneys for other victims say their clients plan to attend the court session, but decisions on whether they will speak are closely guarded. One attorney, who asked for anonymity because his client is still reeling from the emotional effects of his trial testimony, said it may be a last-minute decision.  

Meanwhile, much has transpired since the former Penn State football coach's conviction nearly four months ago. New accusers have surfaced, young men not connected to the criminal trial. These new accusers are, presumably, in addition to those already on the prosecution’s list of Victims Nos. 11-19 filed with the court before the trial but never identified.  

• Attorneys for Matthew Heichel Sandusky, who was adopted by the family at age 18 after having lived in the Sandusky home for many years, stunned verdict watchers in June when they revealed, just after the jury was sequestered, that Matt also been allegedly molested by Sandusky.  Matt immediately went into hiding and offered no personal account of his abuse. Matt's biological mother, Debra Rose Long, who had waged a years-long and unsuccessful court fight to keep the powerful football icon away from her young son, now tells The Daily Beast she and her son have been reunited.

Sandusky’s victims will be afforded time to give a statement to the court.

“Matthew is safe and is working through everything,” she wrote in an e-mail. Long says she plans to be in court on Tuesday to hear Sandusky's sentence, sitting in the same spot she often occupied during the trial. “I will no doubt be tucked into my corner as was usual. We definitely will feel better that he will not be able to steal the innocence and childhood of any more young boys.”

• The youngster referred to as Victim No. 2 at trial was never identified to either police or the court. Ultimately, his story was relayed to authorities by graduate assistant football coach Mike McQueary who testified that on a late night in February 2001 he heard “skin-on-skin rhythmic slapping sounds” in the locker room and was an eyewitness to Coach Sandusky engaging in the “anal rape” of a 10- to 12-year-old boy in the PSU showers. The next morning McQueary told his supervisor—the legendary late football coach Joe Paterno—but no apparent action was taken. McQueary admitted that in his shock at discovering the scene he never asked the child for his name. 

About a month after Sandusky’s conviction, in July 2012, a man identified himself as Victim No. 2 and filed a lawsuit against Penn State University. (The Daily Beast does not name alleged victims of sexual assault whose names have not already been released publicly.) His lawyers issued a statement saying there could be more lawsuits. “Our client suffered extensive sexual abuse over many years both before and after the 2001 incident Michael McQueary witnessed,” the statement read in part. “Our client has to live the rest of his life not only dealing with the effects of Sandusky's childhood sexual abuse, but also with the knowledge that many powerful adults, including those at the highest levels of Penn State, put their own interests and the interests of a child predator above their legal obligations to protect him.” Victim No. 2’s lawyers released two voicemails from the coach each ending with the words, “I love you,” as evidence of the relationship.  

• Also surfacing since the trial is Travis Weaver, 30, who says Jerry Sandusky sexually abused him more than a hundred times, often in the Penn State locker room, beginning when he was just 10 years old. In televised interviews on both NBC and Dr. Phil, Weaver declared he is sure Sandusky’s wife, Dottie, knew exactly what was happening on those evenings when he came home with the coach to spend the night. 

"I think she had to have known something was going on," he told Dr. Phil.  "Your spouse is getting up at all hours during the night and disappearing. How could you not know where he was going? She's just turning a blind eye to everything." (Dottie Sandusky continues to defend her husband’s innocence. She testified at trial that she had no knowledge of any sexual activity between her husband and any boy.) Weaver recently filed lawsuits against Penn State, Jerry Sandusky and Sandusky’s now defunct Second Mile charity. 

• Greg Bucceroni, 48, also appeared on the Dr. Phil program and made the most shocking allegations to date—if they are true. Bucceroni claimed Sandusky was actively involved in a child sex and pornography ring in the late 1970s and early 80s and that he came face-to-face with Sandusky as the object of a child prostitute swap.  Bucceroni said he traveled to the Second Mile offices with his long time abuser, well-known businessman Ed Savitz, who ran a boy's club in Philadelphia. (Savitz was later charged with multiple child sex crimes. He died of AIDS in 1993 before going to trial.) Bucceroni told Dr. Phil that after he was introduced to Sandusky the two men ogled pornographic pictures that had been taken of him. “I felt like a girl at a bachelor party who was a stripper and he was one of the guys about to be married,” Bucceroni said. “This guy [Sandusky] was all over me like I was a cheeseburger and he was hungry for lunch.”

Bucceroni said he gave police Jerry Sandusky’s name and identified other adults he claimed were active in the ring which he claimed operated between Philadelphia, State College, and New York City.  

“They called me poor white trash,” Bucceroni told Dr. Phil. “They told me I had a reputation of being an [expletive deleted]-lover and why should they believe white trash scum like me over a well renowned business guy” like Savitz. Bucceroni also claimed that in the early 80s he told then-District Attorney Ed Rendell all about the abuse and who was responsible.  Today, Rendell, who later became Pennsylvania’s governor, is quoted saying, “None of its true. The guy is just crackers.” Members of Bucceroni’s family have said he is an attention seeker who “runs around grabbing headlines.”  

To date, no one associated with the Sandusky defense has denied the claims of the newest accusers. 

As for Tuesday, it’s unknown at this point whether Jerry Sandusky will take advantage of his right to address the court during the sentencing hearing. Might he respond to any of the victim’s stories heard during trial? Might he mention the latest accusers who have come forward?  His defense attorney, Joe Amendola, is uncharacteristically silent these days about his client’s plan. Several weeks ago, in a brief interview at the Centre County Courthouse, Amendola said Sandusky maintains his innocence, wants to appeal his case, and is expected to speak at the hearing. 

There have been reports that Sandusky has been doing a lot of writing while in solitary confinement in jail, both alone in his cell and in correspondence with his wife. (There was so much paperwork going back and forth at one point Dottie Sandusky reportedly had her correspondence privileges suspended.) Amendola has hinted that Sandusky might be writing a statement for the court, but there was also speculation that Sandusky might be writing a book about his arrest and trial. However, since felons are not allowed to profit from writing about their crimes, it is more likely any book would be authored by Dottie Sandusky. 

If Sandusky does stand to address the court at the sentencing, it will be the first time he has spoken up in his own defense. During the trial, defense attorney Amendola hastily decided not to call Sandusky to the stand after learning that if he testified the prosecution planned a bombshell: Matt Sandusky was waiting in the wings as a rebuttal witness, prepared to make his shocking revelation of abuse in front of his adopted father.