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It’s OK to convict Sandusky, in the court of public opinion

File photo of former Penn State University football defensive coordinator Sandusky being led away by police after being arrested in Harrisburg Reuters

[Editor's note:  Yes, this is primarily a college football story.  But it has crossed over into other forms of football and other areas of news, and it will continue to be a major story in the coming weeks, months, and possibly years.]

The American justice system is premised on the notion that everyone who stands accused of criminal charges remains presumed innocent until proven guilty.  No such privilege applies in the court of public opinion, which passes judgment whenever, wherever, and however it chooses, based on whatever information it has available.

On Monday night, former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky decided, for whatever reason, to submit to an interview with NBC’s Bob Costas on the new Brian Williams-hosted show, Rock Center.  And by choosing to add spoken words to the compelling evidence against him, Sandusky has forfeited whatever benefit of the doubt he otherwise was owed.

Sandusky could have scored an acquittal in the court of public opinion, theoretically.  Instead, he sealed his own fate with an unpersuasive explanation of the events, and the absence of any of the scream-it-from-the-rooftops indignation that a person who was wrongfully accused of such heinous, sinister acts surely would project.

Sandusky failed to express outrage, confusion, and sadness that someone would use the extensive personal sacrifices made in the interests of helping children in need as the basis for fabricating the most horrendous allegations that can be made against an adult male.  Instead, he offered up the perfunctory denial that comes from virtually every criminal defendant.

Even O.J. Simpson was more convincing with that passionate “absolutely, 100 percent not guilty” uttered at his 1994 arraignment.

Costas is drawing widespread praise for the poised and fair manner in which he handled a difficult and delicate subject.  And deservedly so.  The full interview appears below, and it will be replayed in its entirety tonight on NBC SportsTalk (VERSUS, 6:00 p.m.).

Here’s hoping Bob gets more opportunities to pose fair yet necessary questions to the key figures in this case.

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51 Responses to “It’s OK to convict Sandusky, in the court of public opinion”
  1. benh999 says: Nov 15, 2011 1:35 PM

    Nice cross-NBC promotion. Moonves must be proud.

  2. dbones750 says: Nov 15, 2011 1:37 PM

    give him the chair!

  3. KIR says: Nov 15, 2011 1:38 PM

    Sandusky says he never spoke to Paterno? This was your defensive coordinator and right hand man that you’ve known for 28 years and one of the your assistants (McQueary) tells you he saw him sodomizing a 10 year old boy and Paterno doesn’t immediately call Sandusky or better yet talk to him face to face. I’m not buying that. The whole staff had to have known of this and they still watched him bring additional boys around them in later years. Somethings terribly wrong with the Penn State Football program and administrators.

  4. realitypolice says: Nov 15, 2011 1:39 PM

    Who is advising this guy?

    I certainly hope he did this over his lawyer’s dead body.

    If not, someone needs to kill his lawyer.

    He actually places himself in the shower with children and admits to “horseplay”.

    Like Roger Cossack said on ESPN today, putting a suspect at the scene of the crime is half the prosecutor’s job, and Sandusky just did it for him.

  5. apooster says: Nov 15, 2011 1:39 PM

    His lawyer must be Jackie Chiles

  6. asdfasdfdasfadsfv23 says: Nov 15, 2011 1:40 PM

    First time I really realized how sick a person that does this kind of thing is.

  7. joetoronto says: Nov 15, 2011 1:41 PM

    Convict him?

    The man should be hung in public.

  8. sdelmonte says: Nov 15, 2011 1:48 PM

    The man might have asked for it, but I never like seeing anyone tried by public opinion. It doesn’t seem like it’s fair.

    But it’s good to hear that my first thought upon hearing this interview happened – Costas let himself be used! – was totally wrong. I should know better than that.

  9. thrasherm316 says: Nov 15, 2011 1:54 PM

    Was anybody else suprised that Joe Pa was advised by his legal counsel to remain silent on the matter and Sandusky’s lawyer took his client onto prime time TV?

  10. nineroutsider says: Nov 15, 2011 1:56 PM

    This guy should not be executed by the state. He should be executed by “gen pop” in the state pen after years of near death experiences.

    He shall wish for death long before it comes…

  11. dukemarc says: Nov 15, 2011 1:56 PM

    His lawyer thought this interview was a good idea – I hope it ends up frying him.

    Did anyone else get the feeling this guy was just slip of the tongue away from admitting it to Costas on National TV?

  12. thridandlong says: Nov 15, 2011 1:59 PM

    He forced it to fit, you must not acquit !

    Make it simple on the taxpayers, give Scumdsky a 30 day sentence in general population of any Federal Penitentiary, free to circulate as hes see’s fit. Inform the inmates of his crime, and if Scumdusky can survive the 30 days, he is free to go.

  13. CKL says: Nov 15, 2011 2:02 PM

    realitypolice says:
    Nov 15, 2011 1:39 PM
    Who is advising this guy?

    I certainly hope he did this over his lawyer’s dead body.

    If not, someone needs to kill his lawyer.
    _________________________________
    Costas said he originally was slated to interview Sandusky’s lawyer and the LAWYER HIMSELF said to Costas, “What if we could get Sandusky on the phone?” The lawyer was sitting with Sandusky during the entire interview according to Costas.

    My take: OJ could lie like that because he’s a sociopath. Sandusky DOES know it’s wrong and not acceptable…hence his telling hesitations and half truths. And in my opinion, this interview sealed his guilt for me lock, stock and barrel (something Sandusky should be on the business end of for what he did).

  14. thereisalwaysnextyear says: Nov 15, 2011 2:02 PM

    What about his answer when asked if he found kids sexually attractive? He NEVER said NO!!! How could one even hesitate on that??? He goes around it and says he likes to be around young people? AND have you heard that his house backs directly up to a middle school playground. Couldn’t make this stuff up if you tried.

  15. delsj says: Nov 15, 2011 2:09 PM

    His lawyer knocked up a 16 year old girl when he was 47. Takes one to represent one, I guess.

  16. fwippel says: Nov 15, 2011 2:10 PM

    What? Sandusky could have scored an acquittal in the court of public opinion, theoretically. Really?

    How do you figure that? If what Mike McQueery testified to was true, there is NOTHING that could possibly get Sandusky ‘acquitted’ in the court of public opinion.

  17. snowpea84 says: Nov 15, 2011 2:12 PM

    Jesus. Allegations are easy to make. And this wouldn’t be the first time allegations were made and were baseless.
    If he is guilty, then he’ll get his punishment.
    Don’t rush to judgement off of what is heard and seen in the media.
    Is it fair to be a vilian for the rest of your life, if found innocent, soley beause the allegations were made to begin with?

  18. bozosforall says: Nov 15, 2011 2:13 PM

    ALL 32 Board of Trustees members should resign immediately, given that this happened on their watch.

  19. thridandlong says: Nov 15, 2011 2:19 PM

    PENNitentiary State…man this is going to get REALLY UGLY….I wonder how far these tentacles will reach.

  20. sergisbauer says: Nov 15, 2011 2:19 PM

    Even his voice had a kind of creepiness to it… he even SOUNDS like you’d expect a child molester to sound.

    He should go to prison and be put in the general population, with no extra privileges or security. Lots of cons, even ones who go man on man in prison, have young sons outside and despise the sort of disgusting monster Sandusky is. I imagine some of them might want to throw Jerry quite the “welcome to prison” party. I’m betting some of the guards would just happen to have their backs turned at the time.

  21. lisabearsfan says: Nov 15, 2011 2:21 PM

    He came so close to admitting it that I had goosebumps…..he is one creepy sounding guy. My heart hurts for the kids and my evil side wants to skin the creep.

  22. jessethegreat says: Nov 15, 2011 2:30 PM

    From the sounds of it, he is a terrible person and I hope he gets as severe a punishment as the law will allow if the allegations are proven true. We do need to let the legal process sort it all out though.

    It would take a serious rash of unforcunate circumstances to prove his innocence, but he does deserve to at least have his story told.

    I remember Richard Jewel from the Atlanta Olympics. The court of public opinion would have had him tarred and feathered without hearing his story. He passed away before the American public knew the true story. He died with the shame of everyone believing he comitted a crime he did not do. I can’t imagine what that would do to someone.

    For my two cents, everyone needs to wait to judge.

  23. kevpft says: Nov 15, 2011 2:42 PM

    Completely agree with what KIR says above. The denials of Paterno and others in the program make absolutely no sense. It just isn’t possible that details were never shared, that Paterno and others never asked or weren’t told details.

    People in positions of such power live and die on knowing things that can hurt or help them. To suggest otherwise is damning either way: either a monstrous, willfull indifference that is a crime in itself, or outright lying and covering up, which is the crime we all suspect, and I believe to be true.

    What a deep poisoning this is. The more I think about it, the more reasonable people sound who suggest shutting down the whole program. Suspend the program 5 years. Demolish the football athletic facilities. Then rebuild it all afterward, with no gestures or recognition whatsoever to the past. Spend the money, consider it a small price to pay for the cleansing.

    Traditions have value, but can become corrupt. To leave any trace of the current Penn State tradition is not so different from waving the Confederate flag. Decency demands a moving on.

  24. rarson says: Nov 15, 2011 2:45 PM

    The way that his lawyer says “We think that a lot of those victims will come forward and tell us these things didn’t happen” makes me think that someone or probably several someones are throwing some cash around to help silence the story…

  25. usmutts says: Nov 15, 2011 2:48 PM

    Quite often I read comments on this board and realize immediately when a commenter is a lawyer, like me. Those of us who do trial work almost always recognize immediately when an answer is a lie. ( One example: when the witness hesitates and tries to repeat the question and hesitates again – spending all that time trying to think up something that he can sell ).

    Sandusky is a liar. His lawyer should know better than to let him answer questions. Should he ever take the witness stand ( and now he might have to, in order to try to explain away his interview which will be used against him ) any half way decent prosecutor with any experience at all in trying cases will absolutely destroy him.

    My expectation is that one or more of the other characters in this inglorious disaster will start singing. Paterno? McQueary? Then we’ll start finding out the gruesome truths.

  26. freddyfreeloader says: Nov 15, 2011 2:51 PM

    thrasherm316 says: Nov 15, 2011 1:54 PM

    Was anybody else suprised that Joe Pa was advised by his legal counsel to remain silent on the matter and Sandusky’s lawyer took his client onto prime time TV?
    _________________

    No. Sandusky is a criminal defendant who has already been convicted in the “court of public opinion.” By going public, he really can’t do any more harm; he figures that maybe, just maybe, by speaking in his defense he may open some minds to the possibility that he didn’t do those things. Basically, he had little to lose.

    Paterno, on the other hand, is worried about a potential civil suit. His lawyers have smartly told him to clam up so that he doesn’t say anything that could be used against him. He stands to lose millions if he makes a misstep in public.

  27. gacoltfan says: Nov 15, 2011 2:59 PM

    Snowpea84:

    Did you not hear him admit to taking showers with young boys??? That’s not an allegation by the media, that is an extremely creepy admission by the man himself.

  28. kevpft says: Nov 15, 2011 3:04 PM

    My first comment here was perfectly reasonable and didn’t violate any commenting policies, didn’t refer to any other comments – why was it removed?

  29. redstar504 says: Nov 15, 2011 3:07 PM

    Well writen Mike.

    I had much the same thoughts as I watched it myself. I couldn’t not believe that his attorney allowed the interview.

    My guess is that they are attempting to line up a potential mistrial.

  30. canesfan56 says: Nov 15, 2011 3:08 PM

    If any football program warrants the death penalty for heinous activity and neglect it’ s PENN STATE. Will the NCAA do the right thing or remain fixated on punishing college seniors for having dinner with retired NFL players?

  31. murphintampa says: Nov 15, 2011 3:13 PM

    Thanks to Mike or whoever wrote this. Eloquently articulating the rage we all feel.

  32. 1captain1 says: Nov 15, 2011 3:16 PM

    Christian Catholics again.

  33. steeelfann says: Nov 15, 2011 3:16 PM

    But reportedly, his attorney impregnated a girl when she was 16. He was about 49 or so people, from what I read. So this is the attorney Sandusky hires? All coming together neatly. Game over.

  34. steeelfann says: Nov 15, 2011 3:17 PM

    Creepy Valley.

  35. rabidmike says: Nov 15, 2011 3:28 PM

    Couple of things, I read on the comments here, that Sandusky didn’t answer the question of being a pedophile or on being sexually attracted to young boys. That is incorrect, he definitively said No to both questions. He and his attorney were very clear in saying he was innocent of all these charges. His attorney went so far to say, some, if not all of the 8 victims named in the indictment will say it never happened.

    That being said, I believe that the purpose of this interview was to establish a method for him to take a Plea to significantly lesser charges. I have some experience working with these types of offenders. He is trying to stay out of prison, nothing more. Bob did very well. But there were things Sandusky said in reference to the horseplay and the showering that lead me to believe his defense will be that he had a lapse in judgement without sexual motivation. It’s one of the ways these cases are framed by investigators and defense attorneys. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the scenarios he spoke of were hypotheticals posed to him by the investigating officers to get him to admit being alone with these boys. After that is established, the witness or victim statements will get the conviction. Sandusky will plead out.

  36. blackdonnelly says: Nov 15, 2011 3:30 PM

    The roomie had to wake me up for this interview (I had crashed out because the Packers’ beatdown of the Vikings got – shall we say-boring) I watched this tripe with the most objective attitude I could muster, and came away more convinced than ever now that this guy is guilty of a lot more than just being in the wrong place at the worst time. If his lawyer agreed to this interview, the lawyer in question needs to have his law license revoked and used for fish wrap or bird cage lining. Very bad move – I’d seen more holes in that interview than the Redskins’ defense. I have a feeling this thing will grow more legs and involve more people than we know about. Convict him in the court of public opinion? Fine, then, and let’s clip him while we’re at it.

  37. 4thandnone says: Nov 15, 2011 3:35 PM

    He should at least be waiting for trial in jail. It is not right for this guy to be out on the lose until his trial. What if he hurts someone else in this time?

  38. trollhammer20 says: Nov 15, 2011 3:55 PM

    I withheld judgement until I read the Grand Jury report. Numerous victims, all reporting the exact same types of behaviors, over a period of a decade. It made my skin crawl to the point where watching the interview would only be pouring gasoline on the fire.

    I have a degree in Psychology. This isn’t the kind of behavior that you can “fix”. This guy needs to be locked up where he can’t be around kids anymore. Period.

  39. m1k3g says: Nov 15, 2011 4:27 PM

    benh999 says:
    Nov 15, 2011 1:35 PM
    Nice cross-NBC promotion. Moonves must be proud.
    _________________________________

    Why would the CEO of CBS be proud of NBC cross-promoting its own shows?

  40. packmanfan says: Nov 15, 2011 4:32 PM

    So he is guilty just because he sounds like a creep?
    If he hadn’t been charged with this, no one would have ever thought that he is a pedophile.
    You all think he sounds like one just because he was charged with it?
    Child please.
    I don’t think it’s right to judge this guy just because of the way he sounds during a phone interview.
    Then again, I don’t think it’s right to judge him at all until the trial is over.
    Be patient. We will get to the truth. Until then, we have very little to go on compared to what may come later on.

  41. snarkzilla says: Nov 15, 2011 4:42 PM

    Wait till the various players in this despicable mess start ratting each other out to save their own skins.

    And what did the NCAA know and when did they know it?

  42. upperdecker19 says: Nov 15, 2011 4:47 PM

    Costas did a great job. And I really don’t feel like being funny about this. But I found myself wondering if Chris Hanson wouldn’t have been the more appropriate NBC journalist to conduct this interview?

  43. rajbais says: Nov 15, 2011 4:50 PM

    With all due respect to Mike, it’s not the screaming that really merits one having the benefit of the doubt; it’s “detailed messaging”!!!

    If you sound detailed enough, you’re automatically believable!!! One example of successful detailed denial: a non-NFL story involving Jose Canseco where Brian McNamee talked about a steroid transaction involving Roger Clemens, Canseco, and a steroids dealer at Canseco’s for a barbeque. Canseco denied the event AND talked about how Clemens went golfing that day. Afterwards came proofs of receipts of Clemens’ golf outing. (Apologies to NFL fans)

    An example with vagueness, but anger would be Heath Evans. He was not detailed when he was defending Auburn after Andrea Kremer did her story on their “pay for play” mini-scandal on HBO. Who was believed more, Heath Evans or the ex-Auburn players talking to Kremer???

  44. steeelfann says: Nov 15, 2011 5:06 PM

    Sandusky is guilty. I have to read people every day for a living Done it the last 25 years. He is guilty. Listen to him, quit the attorney boilerplate and use your brain. There is no argument to a logical person. You can spew the lawyer – 101 sentences all day. Wake up, smell the coffee.

    In other words, if it was your kid and you just listened to Sandusky’s lies and misnomers, would you believe it? If it was your kid? No, you’d lock and load.

  45. gmen1987 says: Nov 15, 2011 5:24 PM

    ALL 32 Board of Trustees members should resign immediately, given that this happened on their watch.

    ———————————————
    Would you include the governor of Pennsylvanua Tom Corbert as one who should resign from both the Board of Trustees and as governor? There was rumplings about this investigation in September 2010 and Penn State fans were talking on a message board about something about to blow up the football program involving Sandusky. Certainly Corbett had to know this, especially since he was a former Attourney General for the state.

  46. 52crabcakes says: Nov 15, 2011 5:50 PM

    Sad part about it is, he did not just start this at 55!

  47. beastofeden says: Nov 15, 2011 5:57 PM

    Jerry Sandusky won’t spend a second in incarceration. Can you imagine the monster lawyer he is going to bring in to stomp the balls off this case?

    And Sandusky wasn’t some smut peddler. He has/had connections. If he was pimping out the boys they weren’t to two-bit lowlifes.

    They were elite, rich, and influential people.

    Sandusky will beat the case,AND make $1,000,000 doing it.

    Only In America!

  48. Deb says: Nov 15, 2011 6:19 PM

    As I’ve posted many times regarding players from various teams, everyone is entitled to the presumption of innocence. But when a man confesses, it’s no longer necessary to presume he’s innocent. Sandusky confessed that, as an adult in his 50s, he showered–one-on-one–with young boys in his care. He confessed they “horsed around” in the shower, hugging, touching. Enough said.

  49. xxpatsxx says: Nov 15, 2011 6:23 PM

    WEEI/ Boston had both a caller and an attorney phone in this morning and give a plausible explanation why Sandusky gave this interview, and why his attorney allowed it. He was sending a message to the others from Penn State (specifically, Curley & Shultz, now charged with perjury) that he is sticking to the script.

    Both Curley & Shultz testified to the grand jury that they were not told about sex abuse or rape by McQueary, just that there was inappropriate contact and ‘horse play’. Also they testified that no meetings, or internal discussions with Sandusky about his [criminal] behaviour ever took place, as unbelievable as that sounds.

    And now Sandusky gives this interview and ‘admits’ it was horseplay, and says that no one ever discussed it with him at Penn State. All of this is backing up Curley/Shultz, and contradicts McQueary.

    When you think about it, it does explain why his attorney might go along with the interview, which otherwise seems so ill-advised.

  50. swervinmervin says: Nov 15, 2011 6:43 PM

    I’ve posted this THREE times and the NBC mods wont put it through. Give me a break!

    People are “praising” Costas???? I dont think so. I and most others I’ve heard from think it’s shameful that NBC even gave Sandosky a platform to talk from. This guy shouldnt be out on bond. That’s a joke in itself. NBC should be ashamed of itself for giving this guy an outlet. Anything for ratings, I guess. Pathetic.

  51. benh999 says: Nov 15, 2011 9:54 PM

    m1k3g says:
    Nov 15, 2011 4:27 PM
    benh999 says:
    Nov 15, 2011 1:35 PM
    Nice cross-NBC promotion. Moonves must be proud.
    _________________________________

    Why would the CEO of CBS be proud of NBC cross-promoting its own shows?

    _________________________________

    You got me — I confused the two. Congratulations.

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