Courts & Crime

Sandusky case: What's at stake in Tuesday's hearing

Here's a quick rundown on what preparations are in place for Tuesday, who the major players are, and what’s at stake:

The case

Former Penn State football assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, who in 1977 founded The Second Mile charity for at-risk youth, faces 52 charges that he sexually abused 10 boys between 1994 and 2009.

What is a preliminary hearing?

It's the first opportunity for the two sides to present evidence and question witnesses. The prosecution must present a “prima facie” case — basically it must show some evidence of each crime, and show that the defendant may have committed the crime.

What's at stake?

A district judge presides over the hearing. If he finds the prosecution has established a prima facie case, the case will be “bound over” to the trial court, which in this case is the Centre County Court of Common Pleas. If the district judge finds the prosecution has not established a prima facie case, the judge will dismiss the charges.

Major players

The defendant: Jerry Sandusky, 67, of Lemont, is former defensive coordinator of the Nittany Lions. In 1977, he founded The Second Mile, a charity for at-risk youth. He retired from Penn State in 1999. He is charged with sexually abusing 10 boys, all of whom prosecutors say he met through The Second Mile programs.

The judge: Senior District Judge Robert Scott, 74, served as district judge in Westmoreland County from 1970 through 2000. Since 2000, he has served a senior district judge. A senior judge is one who is retired, but is available to hear cases by appointment. An out-of-county judge was assigned to preside over the hearing at the request of Centre County Court President Judge David Grine.

The attorneys: Joseph Amendola is the attorney representing Sandusky. Amendola lives in State College and is a 1970 Penn State graduate. The Attorney General’s Office has a team of attorneys on the case, and it was not clear who would lead the team, but among the team is Deputy Attorney General Joseph E. McGettigan, who appeared at Sandusky’s arraignment Tuesday. McGettigan, 62, has worked in the state Attorney General’s Office and the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, and was a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Philadelphia.

The witnesses: The Attorney General’s Office has refused to comment on who will be called to testify at the preliminary hearing. It is expected that several of the people identified by the investigating grand jury as victims of Sandusky will testify.

Where it will happen

The hearing will take place in the Centre County Courthouse, in Bellefonte, Pa. According to court officials, the courtroom has about 200 seats.

A portion has been allocated to those directly involved in the proceeding, and another 100 seats have been reserved for media. The court held a lottery last week, in which 1,339 people applied, to determine which members of the public would occupy the remaining seats.

There also will be a satellite courtroom, where the proceedings can be viewed via video transmission.

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