She didn’t want to ask. But while doing her son’s laundry, she noticed his underwear were missing, replaced by pairs Jerry Sandusky had bought for him.
“I don’t know what specifically happened,” she said. She lifted her hands, pressing her pink nail-polished fingers just below her eyes to stop the tears. “I just can imagine what happened.” Her son testified Thursday that Sandusky sodomized him in Sandusky’s basement. He never told his mother the specifics. He didn’t have to.
“I didn’t really want to hear—it’s not that I didn’t want to hear. It’s just that I knew it would be tough for him … ” she testified. Sandusky’s attorney Joe Amendola asked the now 18-year-old how he was able to keep anal rape—sure to cause bloody underwear—from his mother.
Monday morning, the jury heard the answer from his mother. “I always wondered why he never had any underwear in the laundry,” she said through tears.
And now the warning signs haunt her. He phoned her in the middle of the night when he was sleeping at the Sandusky’s. He said he was sick. She picked him up. He waited outside, barefoot. He acted apathetic in school. He kept telling her he didn’t want to visit Jerry. But she insisted he go. They lived in a trailer. She worked at a local bar. The boy’s father wasn’t in the picture. Sandusky was a savior, an iconic football coach revered in the community for his work with his charity, the Second Mile.
“I could never find underwear in the laundry,” she said, crying.
“Would you like more time?” Sandusky’s attorney Joe Amendola asked her.
Amendola had attempted earlier that morning to have charges relating to three of the 10 alleged victims dropped. Judge John Cleland denied all of them. The prosecution withdrew a single charge based on a technicality. Sandusky still faces 51 charges.
And for all the criticism Centre County Judge John Cleland took about rushing the Sandusky trial’s start date, he’s attempted to slow down the pace of both the prosecution and defense. Elongated recesses. Canceling court for a day. Early dismissals.
Reporters wanted more time, too, and in Bellefonte, locals are still blinded by the glare of national press. Outside the courthouse, a Washington Post reporter rushes to feed a parking meter. Maureen Dowd emerges from a local coffee shop. In her piece in Sunday’s New York Times, the columnist, in part, blamed the local community for shielding Sandusky. Brutally honest or unfairly harsh, she was the buzz of the courtroom Monday morning.
In the courtroom, Dowd sat next to NBC’s Michael Isikoff, the reporter who broke a story about ousted Penn State president Graham Spanier. In an email to former university administrators Tim Curley and Gary Schultz (both now charged with perjury), Spanier described not alerting authorities of alleged misconduct between Sandusky and a minor as “humane,” according to Isikoff’s report.
But aside from “humane,” no other word was released from the emails. Spanier—who has sued Penn State for the emails—never was one to go down without a fight. Pre-scandal Spanier held a press conference when Gov. Tom Corbett slashed Penn State funding last year—just months before the scandal broke. One word (“humane”) taken from a decades’ worth of emails is certainly not his final say. Still, lately, he hasn’t spoken much.
Neither has Sandusky. But that could change, as many now expect him to take the stand in a final Hail Mary play for a defense that has seen evidence pile against him. Sandusky’s character witnesses finished ahead of schedule on Monday. Court ended early. Sandusky stood from his wooden swivel chair holding a black plastic binder. Fidgeting, he dropped it. Dozens of scattered papers littered the courtroom floor. He looked for help, but his defense attorneys had their hands full.
He didn’t need to ask. Sandusky bent over, knowing he had no choice but to clean it up himself.