What To Expect In The Sandusky Trial

NPR's Jeff Brady talks with Weekend Edition Sunday host Rachel Martin about last week's jury selection process and what to expect from Monday's opening arguments in the trial of Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State football coach.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The trial of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky is scheduled to begin in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania tomorrow. Sandusky faces 52 counts in connection with the child sexual abuse scandal that rocked the university last fall. He's accused of sexually abusing 10 boys over a decade and a half. NPR's Jeff Brady joins us now from Philadelphia. Jeff, jury selection wrapped up at the courthouse on Wednesday. What was the process like? I mean, as I understand it, a lot of the people in this community have connections to the university, right?

JEFF BRADY, BYLINE: That's exactly right. Penn State absolutely dominates life in Centre County. The prosecution even asked that a jury be brought in from another county, but Judge John Cleland denied that request back in February. And last week, he made it clear during jury selection that it was OK if people had connections to the school or even to the some of the potential witnesses. For Judge Cleland, the key seemed to be finding folks who could come with an open mind. And while there were a few people who said they'd already decided Jerry Sandusky was either guilty or not guilty, finding the 12 jurors and the four alternates seemed to go smoothly and the process wrapped up in just two days.

MARTIN: And at one point, Jerry Sandusky himself got involved in the jury selection process. What happened there?

BRADY: Yeah. The third member of the jury selected, her husband is a doctor and he works in the same medical group as the father of one of the key witnesses in the case, Mike McQueary. Now, McQueary, he's that assistant coach who, as a grad student, says he saw Sandusky in a locker room shower allegedly molesting a boy. Sandusky's lawyer tried to get the woman removed from the jury, but the judge said no. Then it looked like Sandusky's attorney was going to use one of his preemptory challenges, but Sandusky stopped him and said he thought the woman would be fair, and now she'll be sitting on that jury.

MARTIN: So, what can we expect as the trial begins?

BRADY: Well, opening statements are expected tomorrow. During jury selection, potential jurors were shown lists of names of people who could be witnesses in the case, and there were dozens of people there on the list, including the widow and son of former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno. There were people who worked with Jerry Sandusky at his charity for at-risk kids. There was the former president of Penn State, Graham Spanier, and of course the alleged victims; some of the 10 boys Sandusky is charged with molesting. They're men now and the judge declined a request to allow them to testify under pseudonyms. So, if they testify, their names will be revealed in court.

MARTIN: NPR's Jeff Brady talking with us from Philadelphia. Thanks so much for the update, Jeff.

BRADY: My pleasure, Rachel.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTIN: This is NPR News.

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