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Investigators asked if they coached witnesses in Sandusky case

11:58 AM, Jun 19, 2012   |    comments
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BELLEFONTE PA - The defense attorney for Jerry Sandusky on Tuesday closely questioned two Pennsylvania state police investigators about whether they coached some of the alleged victims of the former assistant football coach at Penn State to provide damaging details about Sandusky's behavior with them.

One of the troopers, Cpl. Joseph Leiter, now retired, acknowledged to attorney Joe Amendola that he told some of the alleged victims that they "wouldn't be alone" if they came forward because "there were others." He also said he told one witness in an April 21, 2011, interview that investigators had interviewed as many as nine other alleged vicitms.

"I don't want you to feel ashamed about what happened," Leiter told the alleged victim according to a transcript of the meeting which was read in court. "I don't want him (Sandusky) to take advantage of you ... we need you to tell us as graphically as you can about what happened to you. Remember, you are not alone."

STORY: Judge sets fast pace at trial
Asked by prosecutor Joe McGettigan whether the officer ever told witnesses what to say, Leiter turned to the jury and said "No."

But Amendola later read Leiter portions of the interview transcript in which the investigator told the victim others had reported abuse that progressed to oral sex and rape.

Also on the transcript was a conversation between a lawyer for an alleged victim and Leiter discussing how to get the witness to open up about what had happened to him. At one point while his client is out of the room attorney Ben Andreozzi asked Leiter "can we say at some point in time we have interviewed other kids?"

Andreozzi later testified about his conversation with Leiter and acknowledged that his client could bring a civil lawsuit following the criminal case involving Sandusky. But the attorney said that he has not talked to his client about filing a lawsuit.

Asked by Amendola whether a guilty verdict would favorably impact any future lawsuit. Andreozzi said "it could have an impact."

The sexual abuse trial entered its sixth day on Tuesday. Sandusky is charged with 51 criminal counts related to 10 alleged victims over a 15-year span. He's accused of engaging in illegal sexual contact ranging from fondling to forced oral and anal sex.

The defense questioned a psychologist who said he diagnosed Sandusky with histrionic personality disorder.

Dr. Elliot Atkins, a clinical and forensic psychologist who often testifies for criminal defendants, said the disorder is characterized by "inappropriate, sexually seductive or provocative behavior." Atkins said that he interviewed Sandusky for six hours and examined a series of intimate letters the former coach sent to one of the alleged victims.

Atkins said that people diagnosed with the disorder often display "excessive emotionality and attention seeking" characteristics. He said they often feel unappreciated when they are not the center of attention.

"The letters (referring to the correspondence he sent to one of the alleged victims) made me feel more confident about my diagnosis," Atkins said.

Atkins also said he interviewed Sandusky's wife, Dottie, who could testify before the trial wraps up this week.

Also Tuesday a number of long-time friends and neighbors of the former coach testified about Sandusky's stellar reputation in the community. They included participants in Sandusky's The Second Mile Charity for at-risk children, from which he is alleged to have selected his victims.

Joyce Porter said she has known the Sandusky family for 40 years. "All the people I know who know Jerry think he's a wonderful man," she said.

When she was dismissed from the witness stand Porter walked behind the defendant and patted him on the shoulder.

The defense also called former New York Jets linebacker Lance Mehl, who played for the Nittany Lions in the 1970s.

"We all looked up to him as a class act," Mehl said when Amendola asked him about Sandusky's reputation.

Remaining possible defense witnesses includes a physician who spoke with key prosecution witness Mike McQueary the night he said he saw Sandusky attack a child in a football team shower in 2001, and members of former football coach Joe Paterno's family, although it was unclear how they might fit into the defense case or whether they will be called.

The defense is expected to wrap up on Wednesday and jurors could get the case as early as Thursday.

USA Today

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