Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State coach convicted of child sexual abuse in 2012, will take the stand on Friday at a hearing in which he will proclaim his innocence and seek to show that his lawyer at his trial was incompetent.
The appearance will mark the first time that Sandusky, an assistant football coach for three decades at Pennsylvania State University under legendary head coach Joe Paterno, will testify in his own defense. He is serving 30-60 years in protective custody in the state’s "supermax" prison at Greene for molesting 10 boys. More accusers have come forward since his conviction.
"Sandusky will testify," on Friday, said Alexander Lindsay, Sandusky’s current lawyer. The hearing will take place at Centre County Courthouse near State College, the central Pennsylvania city that is home to Penn State.
“We think that, based on the evidence, our chances are good the judge will grant a new trial,” Lindsay told Reuters.
Jeff Johnson, a spokesman for Attorney General Kathleen Kane, herself on trial this week for perjury and leaking grand jury information in an unrelated case, said state prosecutors are ready for Sandusky.
“We feel strongly that the claims laid out in his petition are meritless, and we intend to vigorously challenge those claims in court,” Johnson said in an e-mailed statement.
In papers filed this week, Lindsay said Sandusky would “testify regarding each accuser and deny that he committed the crimes alleged.”
But a new trial for Sandusky may hinge on whether his original lawyer, Joseph Amendola, provided ineffective assistance of counsel. Amendola could not be reached for comment.
Sandusky and Lindsay must show that Amendola’s mistakes “so undermined the truth-determining process that no reliable adjudication of guilt or innocence could have taken place,” according to state law.
The Sandusky case led to numerous sanctions against the university, the dismissal of the now-deceased Paterno, and charges against some of its top administrators. It also raised questions about the insular world of collegiate sports after allegations that the program for years failed to alert authorities about Sandusky's behavior.
Judge John Cleland, who has presided in the Sandusky case from the beginning, allowed Lindsay to pursue 10 claims regarding Amendola. They include not calling Sandusky to testify and allowing him to be interviewed by Bob Costa of NBC News, an interview that yielded more evidence for the prosecution.
The hearing will continue on Aug. 22 and 23.
(Editing by Frank McGurty and Jonathan Oatis)