US college football in the spotlight at sex abuse trial of renowned coach Jerry Sandusky - Americas - World - The Independent

US college football in the spotlight at sex abuse trial of renowned coach Jerry Sandusky

Jury selection beginsin case that has shocked nation amid claims of cover-up by officials

Washington

One of the most sensational and shocking child abuse cases in recent US history reached court in a sleepy central Pennsylvania town yesterday, with the start of jury selection for the trial of Jerry Sandusky, a former college football coach accused of molesting 10 young boys over a period of 15 years.

Sandusky, 68, protests his innocence. But he faces more than 50 criminal counts and – if convicted – could theoretically face 500 years in jail. Some of the charges relate to his period as assistant coach at Penn State University, and some of the alleged offences are said to have taken place on college grounds.

First, though, a jury must be chosen, and that often delicate task will be especially arduous on this occasion. The case would be notorious anywhere, but it is being tried in the local county court, just a few miles from the campus of Penn State, by far the largest institution and employer in the region.

As the 220-strong jury pool assembled, several were wearing Penn State insignia. A dozen worked at the college, others had had spouses who did, and one or two even knew Sandusky personally. The selection process could take days to complete. But Judge John Cleland told the potential jurors they would not be sequestered, meaning they can spend nights at home during a trial likely to last several weeks.

Even before it began, however, a separate controversy arose as the judge ordered that the children accusing Sandusky would have to give evidence under their real names, not pseudonyms as often happens in such cases. "Arguably any victim of any crime would prefer not to appear in court," Mr Cleland ruled. "But we ask citizens to do that every day in courts across the nation."

Prosecutors allege that between 1994 and 2009 Sandusky had physical contact with the boys, referred to in court documents as Victims 1 to 10, that ranged from tickling and a "soap battle" in a shower room at Penn State to oral and anal sex. Sandusky has publicly denied having sex, saying what took place was only "horseplay".

His indictment last November made headlines across the country. Perhaps more than the scandals involving the Catholic church here, it raised public awareness of the problem of child sex abuse, while putting the spotlight on the national sporting institution of college football.

Penn State long boasted one of the highest profile college football programmes under the legendary Joe Paterno, the head coach for 46 years, with Sandusky his much admired assistant for some 30 of them. When the scandal broke, the college's president was forced to resign and Mr Paterno was dismissed. He died two months later in January, aged 85.

The shock, however, still reverberates. Like the Catholic hierarchy, Penn State has been accused of carrying out a cover-up.

It emerged that Mr Paterno was first told of possible child sex abuse by his assistant as early as 2002. As required, he passed the reports to his superior, but the police were never notified and for years nothing happened.

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior QA Engineer - Agile, SCRUM

£35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior QA Engineer (Agil...

Marketing Executive - West Midlands - £28,000

£26000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Executive (SEO, PP...

Retail Business Analyst

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our retail client ...

Senior C++ Developer

£400 - £450 Per Annum possibly more for the right candidate: Clearwater People...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week