After seven days of testimony, 50 witnesses, and accounts of serial abuse from eight young accusers, the jury in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case began deliberations Thursday afternoon.
Starting Thursday morning, they heard vastly differing closing arguments from the defense and the prosecution, with several accusers in attendance.
Defense attorney Joseph Amendola's voice caught as he described Jerry Sandusky's life of good works, brought down by false allegations of money-seeking families, greedy private attorneys and police intent on getting a conviction.
Prosecutor Joseph McGettigan III later countered that the attorneys defending the former Penn State assistant coach resorted to a strategy typically employed in the face of overwhelming evidence: Admit what must, deny what they can, call everyone a liar, and allege a conspiracy.
After McGettigan concluded his remarks, jurors began deliberating the fate of Sandusky, accused of sexually abusing 10 boys during 15 years, at 1:12 p.m. EDT. They'll be sequestered without access to cell phones or outside contacts, and will be required to continue their discussion through the weekend, if need be, Judge John M. Cleland has decreed.
If convicted, Sandusky could face up to the rest of his life in prison.
Amendola offered what ultimately constitutes a simple explanation for the horrific allegations and criminal charges: a conspiracy among the victims, many of whom provided graphic evidence of anal rape and forced oral sex, to make up stories and, through court judgments, obtain riches, cars and big houses.
He noted that some victims have signed contingency agreements with lawyers, and not local attorneys, but counsel from Philadelphia, Baltimore and elsewhere.
When Sandusky was arrested, Amendola said, the former Penn State assistant football coach's life essentially came to an end, and so did that of his wife, children and family.
"And Mr. Sandusky says, 'How do I fight this? Because I'm innocent.'''
Consider, Amendola said, Sandusky's history: Years and years of working with children. Contact with thousands of kids, parents, counselors. And no one ever made a complaint, until November of 2008, when authorities launched an initial investigation.
In this trial: "Not one piece of physical evidence. In two of the cases the Commonwealth brought, we don't even have victims."
Authorities have been unable to locate two of the 10 alleged victims. Those charges refer to incidents allegedly witnessed by others.
Amendola asked jurors to consider the testimony of Sandusky's wife, Dottie. She was always around, in and out of the house, but never heard anything untoward, he said. How, he asked, could Sandusky have anally raped victims without injuring them -- and yet no witness testified to being physically hurt?
"It doesn't add up. It doesn't make sense."
The earliest allegations would have occurred when Sandusky was in his mid-50s. At that age, Amendola said, he suddenly becomes a pedophile? He said that police pressure on the accusers led them to add new, terrible details to their stories, that lesser accusations grew into ruinous criminal charges.
State police investigators told alleged victims in interviews that others had come forward, that Sandusky typically progressed from touching to forced oral sex to rape, and that they should state exactly, specifically what had been done to them -- a nudge that they had to come up with additional, incriminating details, Amendola said.
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