Sandusky defense rests—but jury still heard from the accused

June 20, 2012

The defense in former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky’s sex abuse trial rested its case Wednesday morning without calling its client to testify on his own behalf—though, the jury had heard from Sandusky, indirectly. The prosecution played audio from a pre-trial interview Sandusky did with Bob Costas on NBC’s Rock Center

The now-infamous interview did not do Sandusky any favors, most say. In the interview, Jay Paterno’s former defensive coordinator said that he was innocent of the charges levied against him, all 51 counts related to the alleged abuse of 10 boys over a 15-year period. Sandusky admitted to Costas that he "horsed around" with kids.

“I have showered after workouts. I have hugged them and I have touched their legs without intent of sexual contact," Sandusky said. He later admitted that he shouldn't have showered with [those] kids.

Listen to ESPN's Lester Munson discuss the Jerry Sandusky trial, as well as the Roger Clemens verdict, on The Afternoon Shift:

Costas went on to ask Sandusky if he had a sexual attraction to underage boys, Sandusky said, "I enjoy young people. I love to be around them, but no, I'm not sexually attracted to young boys."  

When the interview originally aired last November, I, like many viewers, watched with a wrenched gut. The pregnant pauses felt like hours. Various iterations of “horseplay” or “horsing around” felt like jabs after hearing the phrase from two top Penn State officials when characterizing an allegation of a rape involving Sandusky and a young boy in the Penn State locker room in their testimonies for a grand jury investigation. The officials, former athletic director, Tim Curley, and senior vice president for finance and business, Gary Schultz, stepped down in November.

As painful as it was to watch the interview, I was distracted as I kept thinking, “Why would he do this interview before going to trial? And what attorney, in their right mind, would let him do it?” Well, not only did attorney Joseph Amendola allow his client to do the interview—he joined him! What’s more, we learned this week that what many now consider the most damning comments from the Costas interview, were left on the cutting room floor. Sun-Times columnist Joe Cowley took the peacock network to task for failing to air the entire Sandusky interview. And the unaired portion of the interview went viral this week.

The effectiveness of Amendola’s defense strategy remains to be seen. Though, in retrospect, he may have benefited from a tutoring session with the lead defense attorney for seven-time Cy Young winner, Roger Clemens, who was acquitted on all six charges raised against him in his recently wrapped perjury trial.

After nearly two months in Washington covering the Clemens trial, Afternoon Shift sports contributor and senior writer for ESPN.com Lester Munson breaks down all the courtroom drama.