National Columnist

Sandusky horror story continues to get more disturbing


Ex-Penn State assistant Jerry Sandusky claims he is innocent of the child sex abuse charges he faces. (AP)  
Ex-Penn State assistant Jerry Sandusky claims he is innocent of the child sex abuse charges he faces. (AP)  

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- They're spinning the Sandusky story now, spinning it like a chicken on a spit, trying to make this monster of a scandal into something the public -- or a jury -- can find palatable. They're spinning this story as if it's a game to be won, a game of public relations, and if you want to consider something chilling, consider this:

They might just be right.

All of them. The alleged pedophile, Jerry Sandusky. His attorney. The graduate assistant who told his head coach and then a grand jury that he saw Sandusky sexually assaulting a boy in 2002. The head coach, whose insufficient response in 2002 helped allow Sandusky to remain unchecked for years.

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They're spinning it, and they're using the media to spin it, and it's enough to make you nauseous. The most virulent, violent spin came Monday night when NBC's Bob Costas, under the guise of journalism, gave Sandusky the chance to influence the pool of jurors that will hear his case.

Costas didn't go easy on Sandusky, but Sandusky was ready for the obvious, surprise-free line of questioning. Odds are he had been coached by his attorneys -- possibly even took part in mock interviews, to get ready for Costas -- and Sandusky delivered some lines that could resonate with whatever jury hears his case.

On national television Monday night, Sandusky was given the chance to say the words, "I am innocent." He was given the chance to call the grad assistant from 2002, Mike McQueary, a liar. He was given the chance to call a janitor from 2000 -- who said he saw Sandusky assault a different child -- a liar.

And Sandusky capitalized on those chances. With America watching, not to mention possible members of his upcoming jury, Sandusky said all of those things. Was it believable? That's up to each person to decide. All it takes is one person on the jury to believe it for Sandusky to go free.

Or rather, for Sandusky to stay free.

Sandusky is free right now because the judge who set his bail chose not to set bail at all. Not really. After Sandusky was charged last week with 40 counts of molesting eight boys, the judge cut him loose on an unsecured bond of $100,000. Sounds impressive, right? An unsecured bond of $100,000?

Sandusky got out of jail for free.

An unsecured bond is merely a promise -- that's all Sandusky had to give, a promise -- that the defendant will show up in court. If he doesn't show up, he'd be on the hook for $100,000. By then, the defendant could be in Costa Rica.

The judge who set Sandusky free for free? Her name is Leslie Dutchcot. She has volunteered with Sandusky's charity, The Second Mile, the one that allegedly provided him a hunting ground for victims.

Sandusky capitalized on that, too. While he was out of jail -- not wearing the monitoring device prosecutors wanted him to wear, a request former Second Mile volunteer Leslie Dutchcot declined -- Sandusky helped his defense team find one of the alleged victims.

Can you believe that?

Sandusky's attorney, Joe Amendola, told Costas on Monday night that someone from the defense team -- Amendola didn't specify who; it could have been Sandusky himself -- has been in contact with the child known as alleged Victim Two.

"So you found him, the Commonwealth has not?" Costas asked.

"Yeah. Interesting, isn't it?" Amendola replied.

No. Not interesting -- it's horrifying. Presumption of innocence is one thing, but contacting an alleged victim before the trial? Horrifying. The idea that Sandusky or his people were able to talk to the alleged victim, influence the child's testimony, even persuade him not to cooperate at all ... it's beyond comprehension that such a thing could happen.

Lots of things beyond comprehension have happened, including the evolving story of Mike McQueary, which he now spins in a self-congratulating way after telling the grand jury that his response to Sandusky's alleged shower attack on Victim Two was to leave the shower and call his father.

Now, McQueary is telling former Penn State teammates, "The truth is not out there fully ...  I didn't just turn and run ... I made sure it stopped."

Well, that's not what he told the grand jury. Given the chance to say he had done the most heroic thing in his entire life -- put an end to what he thought was a man sexually assaulting a boy -- he passed. He never mentioned it. But he did mention that he left the shower, picked up a phone, called his dad. Those were the details McQueary thought should be told to the grand jury.

He left the shower ... after stopping an assault? McQueary didn't say that part. Left it out. Must have slipped his mind.

That's the sort of gaffe Joe Paterno wants to avoid, I guess. He doesn't want to miss out on chances to get his story just right, so he has hired a public relations firm to help him look ... better. Which is just fantastic. If there's one thing that needs to come from this Jerry Sandusky story, it's for Joe Paterno to look better.

Meanwhile, Jerry Sandusky is out there somewhere. Helping his defense team locate alleged victims. Living in a house less than a half-mile from an elementary school. With no way for police to monitor his comings and goings.

Yeah. Interesting, isn't it?

Gregg Doyel is a columnist for He covered the ACC for the Charlotte Observer, the Marlins for the Miami Herald, and Brooksville (Fla.) Hernando for the Tampa Tribune. He was 4-0 (3 KO's!) as an amateur boxer, and volunteers for the ALS Association. Follow Gregg Doyel on Twitter.

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