Opening arguments begin today in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse trial. Fans of legal drama are excited that Centre County’s main courtroom has been reserved for a month for what’s being billed as one of biggest trials in the nation this year, but local residents can’t wait for the whole ordeal to be over.
“They need to get it over with,” said Bellefonte resident Bill Dress, who lives in an apartment directly across from the courthouse on High Street. “People are tired. A lot of people are tired with it. It’s been an inconvenience.”
Sitting on his stoop, with a front row view of the flotilla of satellite trucks and television cameras laying siege to the courthouse, Dress watched late last week as another round of live broadcasts was set to begin.
“They are blocking my view,” Dress said, half joking. “It’s going to be strange looking down there and being able to see again when they are gone.”
Dress said people he talks to in Bellefonte are tired of reading about the Sandusky case and of the extra attention and traffic caused by national media outlets.
Exactly 185 courtroom seats have been made available to the media, and every one has been spoken for, according to Teri Henning, of the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association. Members of the media trickled into the Courthouse Annex on Sunday to pick up their credentials, though they also had the option of picking them up this morning.
“It’s going pretty smoothly so far,” Henning said.
Valerie Owens, owner of Rags to Riches Resale Shop on North Allegheny Street, said her customers are tired of the attention, and she has heard some say they are staying away from downtown Bellefonte until the trial is over.
“Some people are saying they don’t want to be bothered, but you still see them walking over to take a look,” she said. “You still see people checking out the cameras.”
One such onlooker was Jim Temchack, who stood in front of the courthouse, panning his cellphone to capture a homemade video. Temchack, a Bellefonte native and graduate of Penn State, now lives in Gettysburg. He was in the area for an annual fishing trip with friends and wanted to see the spectacle for himself.
“It’s fascinating,” he said. “It’s something that should have never happened, but to see all the media here — something like this is once (in) a lifetime.”
Former Bellefonte resident Timara Fogleman, 15, of Howard, said as she sat outside the Centre County Library and Historical Museum, two blocks down from the courthouse, that she and her friends wish the trial was over.
“I think it’s stupid,” she said. “That’s what my friends have been talking about. It’s causing so much drama.”
Other Bellefonte residents approached last week declined to speak about the pending trial. One woman, who would not provide her name, said, “I just want it to be over.
“I thought with jury selection it was pretty well behaved. It wasn’t bad,” the woman said. “(But) for the trial, who knows what to expect.”