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updated: 9/21/2012 11:49 PM

Son's abuse allegations gutted Sandusky defense

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  • Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, center, leaves the Centre County courthouse in custody after being found guilty of multiple charges of child sexual abuse in June in Bellefonte, Pa. He'll be sentenced Oct. 9.

      Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, center, leaves the Centre County courthouse in custody after being found guilty of multiple charges of child sexual abuse in June in Bellefonte, Pa. He'll be sentenced Oct. 9.
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

Jerry Sandusky reversed course and decided not to take the witness stand after his adopted son came forward and told prosecutors the former Penn State assistant football coach had abused him, documents show.

Trial transcripts posted online Friday offer a glimpse into Sandusky's decision to remain silent during his child sex-abuse trial.

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Matt Sandusky, whom the defense had planned to call as a witness, abruptly switched sides late in the trial, approaching prosecutors and offering to testify that he had suffered abuse at the hands of his father, the transcript shows.

Prosecutors planned to call Matt as a rebuttal witness if Jerry Sandusky testified in his own defense, the transcript shows. They later backed off, but wouldn't agree to a defense request to refrain from asking Sandusky about his son's claims on cross examination.

"Mr. Sandusky had always wanted to testify on his own behalf. He always wanted to tell people his side to the allegations in this case," defense lawyer Joe Amendola said during a private conference in judge's chambers. "However, that potential evidence, whether true or not, was so devastating" that Sandusky felt he could not run the risk of testifying and subjecting himself to questions about Matt, he continued.

Amendola argued for a mistrial, saying "it was such an integral part of our case that Mr. Sandusky testify that we feel we have really put ourselves in a tough situation with the jury."

Prosecutors objected and Judge John Cleland agreed, telling Amendola that trials have a way of throwing legal strategies into disarray.

Sandusky, 68, was convicted of sexually abusing 10 boys and will likely spend the rest of his life in prison. His sentencing is scheduled for next month. He still maintains his innocence.

Matt Sandusky went to live with Sandusky and his wife, Dottie, as a foster child and was adopted by them as an adult.

Shortly after the former coach's arrest in November, Matt Sandusky's ex-wife went to court to keep her former father-in-law away from their three young children. Jill Jones successfully obtained a restraining order forbidding the children from sleeping over at their grandparents' home.

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