When court opens this morning in one of Americas most closely watched criminal proceedings the preliminary hearing on sex-abuse charges for former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky Columbia attorney Ken Suggs will be there representing Victim No. 6.
I have to be in my seat at 8:15 a.m., said Suggs, 65, who will run a gauntlet of more than 100 reporters at the old-timey Centre County courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa.
During the hearing, which could last all day, Suggs and law partner Howard Janet will listen to testimony but not make any statements.
Both represent Victim No. 6, whose 1998 case was among the first incidents known by authorities, who failed to bring charges at the time.
Todays hearing will be the first public testimony by up to 10 alleged victims, all of whom were young boys when former Penn State defensive coordinator Sandusky allegedly made sexual advances toward them. None of the alleged victims will be publicly identified today.
Sandusky faces more than 50 counts of child sexual abuse involving 12 boys over a 15-year period. The case has rocked Penn State and cost several high-ranking officials their jobs, among them legendary football coach Joe Paterno.
Because Suggs client was one of the first to bring allegations of Sanduskys improper conduct to authorities attention, he is considered a key victim in the case.
He is a very, very strong young man, though obviously theres a lot of apprehension involved, Suggs said of his client, now 24. He has a strong religious conviction.
According to a grand jury report in Victim No. 6s case, the client 11 at the time was distraught after Sandusky allegedly persuaded him to take a shower in the Penn State locker room, soaped him down and then gave him a bear hug while both were naked. The boy then went home and told his mother. She contacted police, who listened in while the mother talked to Sandusky on the telephone.
Sandusky made the statement, I wish I could get forgiveness. I know I wont get it from you. I wish I were dead, according to a grand jury report.
The fact that the 1998 investigation never resulted in criminal charges or measures to remove Sandusky from being close to young boys has sparked public outrage on a national scale. Many other victims were allegedly molested after 1998.
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