BELLEFONTE, Pennsylvania (Reuters) – A judge will rule on Monday whether former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky can see his grandchildren while on bail on child sex abuse charges and if a jury from outside Centre County should be brought in for the trial.
Centre County Judge John Cleland said on Friday after a hearing over those requests that he was aiming to start Sandusky’s trial on May 14. Sandusky, 68, faces 52 criminal charges for suspicion of molesting 10 boys between 1994 and 2008. He’s been confined to his home since his December arrest.
Sandusky’s November indictment sparked the dismissal of Penn State’s iconic head football coach, Joe Paterno, who died on January 22. University President Graham Spanier also lost his job.
Defense attorneys said the judge had decided to announce his decisions on the motions on Monday.
“I’m grateful for the people who have stood beside me,” Sandusky, who has maintained his innocence, told reporters outside the court, explaining why he wanted to be able to see his grandchildren and other friends.
“When (my wife) comes home from visiting with the grandchildren and tells me that one of them said that ‘the only thing I want for my birthday is to be able to see Pops,’ I’m sensitive to that, that’s why I came today,” he said.
Sandusky’s lead attorney, Joe Amendola, on Friday asked for the ex-coach’s bail to be modified so he can have supervised visits with his grandchildren and other adults in his State College home, and so he can work on his defense at Amendola’s office.
Prosecutors are opposing that request.
Prosecutors want Cleland to allow an out-of-county jury to hear Sandusky’s trial, arguing that a jury made up of Centre County residents would place the case in “peril” because they are too emotionally and financially intertwined with Penn State.
“One in three Centre County residents has direct affiliation to the university,” Deputy Attorney General Joe McGettigan said on Friday when arguing for a jury from outside the county. “What if juror number 6 knows victim number 2? Will that be fair?”
In response, Amendola, said: “I’ve been in this county for over 30 years. I have never had any difficulty getting 12 people to make up a fair and impartial jury.”
Amendola also wants more information about Sandusky’s accusers that the state Attorney General Linda Kelly’s office has, so far, been reluctant to provide.
(This version adds missing word “arrest” in second paragraph)
(Writing by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Daniel Trotta)