By Patrick Perion-
(Editor’s Note: Patrick has been a child abuse investigator since 1994 and has interviewed thousands of children about child abuse, child sexual abuse and neglect. He will weigh in with his thoughts as a special 670TheScore.com contributor throughout the Jerry Sandusky Trial. Patrick is otherwise known as “Quad City Pat”, a frequent caller to the Boers & Bernstein Show.)
(CBS) Thursday marked the closing arguments of both the prosecution and defense and the case being given to the jury. The big news of the day happened outside the court house as two more victims came forward. One of them is Matt Sandusky, an adopted son of Jerry and Dottie Sandusky.
I’ll get to that in a moment, but first a quick look at the closing arguments:
Let’s first look at the prosecution’s which was particularly good. Reading excerpts reported by several outlets, it appears that Mr. McGettigan did his job to the best of his ability. It will be hard for the jury to forget the faces of the eight men shown on a 12-foot screen as young boys. That’s the sort of thing that connects juries to the people who were victimized. It humanizes the victims and they are no longer randomly titled “Victim 1 through 10”.
In the many trials that I have been a part of, anything done with the big projection screen seems to have an impact. I had a case a while back in which the defense used the projector and the prosecution did not. The perp was found not guilty despite a mountain of evidence against him. Juries are funny that way.
I’ll say this for Joe Amendola, he really sold his side of the case. His close hit all the points he made in the trial. The one point he made that made me laugh was when he said that Sandusky didn’t start being a pedophile until his 50’s because all the alleged incidents started in the 1990’s. No, Joe, Sandusky didn’t start in his 50’s, no one before then has come forward. That’s a big distinction.
In the big news of the day, two more people came forward. Travis Weaver, a 30-year-old man came forward, has filed a civil suit and was interviewed on Rock Center with Brian Williams on NBC.
Matt Sandusky also came forward. He was prepared to be a rebuttal witness if Jerry Sandusky took the stand. Matt Sandusky, through his attorney, issued a statement that he was a victim of molestation by Jerry Sandusky and was later adopted by the Sanduskys as an adult.
Several questions were tweeted and emailed to me today about why the prosecution did not use these two witnesses. First, if I am reading Pennsylvania law correctly, both of these men are beyond the statute of limitations. Abuse that occurred under the age of 18 can only be prosecuted 10 years after the victim turns 18.
In Illinois, the law is similar. Victims outside the statute can be used for rebuttal in some instances, but because of bans on presenting prior bad acts as prejudicial, I have not seen any case in which they were allowed to testify. Usually prior victims are used during sentencing to show patterns of behavior.
The other question that was posed today was, why did Dottie Sandusky not notice behavior changes in her foster son and, later, adopted son, Matt?
The reason is tragic on many fronts. Foster kids and adoptive kids make perfect victims for serial sexual abusers. Foster kids and adopted kids — especially those adopted later in life — have a myriad of behavioral, mental and social problems. Any unusual behavior by that child is chalked up to being a foster kid. They become sullen, withdrawn, perhaps even act out sexually, and it’s all chalked up to being a foster or adopted kid with attachment disorders. Unless the kid makes a disclosure, these behaviors are almost always attributed to other factors.
The children Sandusky had living with him as foster and adoptive children are even more perfect prey than the boys with no father figure and no self esteem that he groomed through Second Mile.
This case is finally with the jury. Unfortunately, no matter the verdict, the atrocities that Jerry Sandusky committed will never go away.
Patrick is a 1990 graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport IA. He’s been working in child welfare since 1988. Since 1994, he has been a child abuse investigator and has interviewed thousands of children about child abuse, child sexual abuse and neglect. He was certified in forensic interviewing of child sexual abuse victims in 1999 and received an advanced certification in 2001. He’s also been a trainer of forensic interviewing for child welfare professionals and law enforcement officials. On a personal note, he out kicked his coverage in marrying his wife Nicole and he has two wonderful daughters. Follow Patrick on Twitter @QuadCityPat and read his blog. He is not a spokesperson for his employer and his opinions are his own.