In the first half-day of Jerry Sandusky's defense, his attorneys worked to bolster the retired Penn State football coach's reputation against the word of eight young men who say he molested them and to disabuse jurors of the idea that it is unusual for men and children to shower together.
Former Penn State assistant coaches Dick Anderson and Booker Brooks testified they didn't see anything strange about Sandusky's bringing boys from The Second Mile charity to shower with him in Penn State locker rooms, adding they had, from time to time, showered with children themselves.
Asked about Sandusky's reputation in the community, Brooks replied, "Exemplary, top-notch, other words come to mind like that."
A political campaign consultant who took a job as a fundraiser for The Second Mile, which Sandusky founded for disadvantaged kids, said he worked closely with Sandusky and got to know him well.
"I did it on the basis of Jerry's reputation in the community," David Brent Pasquinelli said in Centre County Court. "Generally speaking ... Jerry was a local hero."
"I saw a mutual admiration between Second Mile youth -- boys and girls -- with Jerry, and I saw a lot of goofing around," he said. "Jerry had a very unique way, and many of us were inspired by how he could relate to youth of all ages."
Brett Witmer, now a teacher in the Bellefonte Area School District, told the jury he met Victim 4 through a youth center in the boy's hometown. Then an AmeriCorps volunteer, he noted how Sandusky would always check on the boy's progress.
One time, Sandusky drove to the youth center to pick up Victim 4. The boy didn't show, so Witmer and Sandusky sat on the front steps, talking while they waited. Witmer apologized for the boy's absence. Sandusky told him not to worry.
"You've got to understand when you're dealing with kids who are coming from a difficult situation that sometimes they're not going to want to meet with you and talk with you," Sandusky reportedly said. "But you always have to be there for them."
Witmer said he still holds on to that advice today.
An Iraq War veteran in a wheelchair testified he attended Second Mile camps as a youngster and worked there as a counselor when he got older. Sandusky took an interest in his school work and the man's friends spoke highly of him, Clint Mettler said.
That testimony came after prosecutors presented their final witness Monday morning. The mother of an 18-year-old boy who testified last week that Sandusky raped him said she felt responsible for making him go with the ex-coach after the boy lost interest in spending time with him.
"He would just say he didn't want to go, and I would make him go anyway," the woman said tearfully.
She gave her name in court, but The Morning Call is not publishing it to avoid identifying her son, identified by prosecutors as Victim 9.
Judge John M. Cleland called an abrupt end to testimony about 2 p.m. Monday, citing technical issues with witnesses. But he announced the defense would finish presenting its case by mid-day Wednesday and that the jury would likely receive its instructions and begin deliberations Thursday morning. He told the panel of seven women and five men they will be sequestered in a hotel until they reach a verdict.
Speculation surged Monday that prosecutors would play an un-aired portion of a November interview of Sandusky by NBC sportscaster Bob Costas.
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