Sandusky defense filing mentions 'Accusers 11-17'

Associated Press Modified: May 4, 2012 at 6:01 pm •  Published: May 4, 2012

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — New documents filed by the attorneys for former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky suggest there are at least 17 accusers in the child sexual abuse case, a much higher number than described in criminal charges.

The requests, dated April 16 and April 23, were attached to a motion filed Thursday in which Sandusky defense attorney Joe Amendola asked the supervising judge to mandate more disclosure of investigative materials.

The criminal charges against the former Penn State assistant football coach only pertain to boys named as Victims 1 through 10 in court records.

The April 16 discovery request asked for information on "uncharged conduct evidence," while the one filed a week later pertained to employment records.

The court filing did not name the people, explain what might make them accusers or indicate what role, if any, they play in the criminal case in which Sandusky has denied all allegations.

"This in all likelihood means that there are other people who have come forward who have accused him of improper sexual conduct," said Wes Oliver, a Widener Law School professor who specializes in criminal law.

Asked about the eight supposed accusers, Sandusky defense lawyer Karl Rominger indicated the basis for the requests grew from previous material disclosed to the defense by the attorney general's office.

The April 23 request referred to "all individuals identified as Accusers 11 through 17 as well as 18 through an unknown number."

"The requests we made are based on what we believe should be provided, based on information we've received to date," Rominger said.

A spokesman for the attorney general's office declined to comment, citing a gag order issued by the presiding judge.

Lawyers for potential civil litigants have said there are accusers beyond the 10 alleged victims for which Sandusky, 68, faces 52 criminal charges. One alleged victim has filed a lawsuit in Philadelphia that is on hold while the criminal case proceeds.

There are many possible reasons why prosecutors might not file charges based on the claims of a purported victim, from problems with the statute of limitations and questions about credibility to a strategic analysis about how much evidence to put before jurors.

Information about any additional accusers for which Sandusky has not been charged could help the defense try to undermine the credibility of the prosecution's case, said University of Pittsburgh law professor John Burkoff, an expert on Pennsylvania criminal law procedure.

"There may not be anything there, but who knows?" Burkoff said. "It's all a part of getting as much evidence as you can, to see what you've got."

Oliver said there are theoretical scenarios under which the additional names could be either helpful or damaging to Sandusky's defense.

"If the other eight people are kooks, that's actually a great story for the defense to put before the jury," Oliver said. "If, however, there are eight other alleged victims out there who the prosecution just can't corroborate but they've got pretty good stories, then that's really bad for the defense."

Another discovery request, dated March 27, sought nine documents that Amendola said were removed from football coach Joe Paterno's office and copied by state police. Amendola wrote that the documents had undergone a "supervised review" and been protected by a "police seal of evidence."