Sandusky’s wife says accusers ‘clingy,’ ‘demanding’
BELLEFONTE — Dottie Sandusky never witnessed any inappropriate contact between her husband of 45 years and the boys he is accused of abusing, she testified on Tuesday.
She remembers her husband’s accusers, though. One youth, she said, was “clingy,” another “demanding,” and a third, “a charmer. He knew what to say and when to say it.”
On a day marked by testimony from 19 witnesses — including those who testified to Jerry Sandusky’s good character, about prompting witness statements and to dispute theories about the defendant’s behavior — Dottie Sandusky’s appearance on the stand might have been the most anticipated.
In about 45 minutes of testimony, the petite mother of six adopted children countered claims from accusers, including those who said her husband abused them in the family basement while she was upstairs.
Dottie Sandusky, 69, said the boys “had a choice to stay wherever they wanted to stay (within the house).”
She said her husband always went downstairs to tell the boys who slept in the basement bedroom good night.
“I didn’t say he would put them to bed, I said he would go down and tell them ‘good night,’ ” she said under cross-examination from Senior Deputy Attorney General Joseph McGettigan.
She also disputed an account from the accuser known as “Victim 4,” whose claim that Dottie Sandusky interrupted an attack brought questions about how much she knew about her husband’s behavior. The accuser testified she came into a room while her husband sexually assaulted him during a trip with the family to the Alamo Bowl in 1999.
Under questioning from lead defense attorney Joseph Amendola, she said the pair was fully clothed when she walked into the Texas hotel room. She said they were arguing about the boy’s refusal to attend a banquet.
She also recalled how the man known as “Victim 6” stayed in touch with her family for many years and how “Victim 4” brought his girlfriend and son to visit several years ago. The Tribune-Review does not identify accusers in sexual assault cases.
Jerry Sandusky, 68, is charged with abusing 10 boys over 15 years, typically in Penn State University facilities, his home and hotels. The former football defensive coordinator maintains his innocence.
The trial is scheduled to resume at 9 a.m. today. Judge John M. Cleland said he expects attorneys to close and send the case to the jury no later than Thursday.
On the sixth day of testimony, a Philadelphia forensic psychologist attempted to cast Sandusky’s affectionate letters to one of his accusers as a symptom of histrionic personality disorder, rather than evidence of any lingering attempts to revive a sexual relationship.
Elliot Atkins said he diagnosed Sandusky as suffering from the disorder after administering two personality tests, spending six hours interviewing him and reviewing various court documents.
“His behavior was inappropriate. His behavior was not typical behavior for someone of his age and led to suspicions about his intentions,” Atkins said.
He described the disorder as a condition in which an individual must be at the center of attention and often displays inappropriate behavior such as embracing a casual acquaintance.
During questioning by McGettigan, he conceded that the diagnosis does not exclude other conditions.
Dr. John S. O’Brien, a forensic psychiatrist from Philadelphia, took issue with Atkins’ findings, testifying that tests suggested no evidence of the disorder and included cautions that Sandusky was attempting to present himself in the best light.
He found Sandusky’s letters to the youth to be “highly manipulative.”
“Would it be consistent with a psycho-sexual disorder with a focus on preadolescent?” McGettigan asked.
“Yes, it would. … But it is impossible to draw factual conclusions from that sort of information,” O’Brien said.
Defense attorneys played for jurors a tape recording in which a pair of state police investigators were heard telling Victim 4’s lawyer that they had statements from other accusers whose accounts of their abuse included sexual assaults.
Now-retired state police Cpl. Joseph Leiter told the young man that police heard stories similar to his from a number of others.
“I don’t want you to feel ashamed because you were a victim,” Leiter can be heard saying on the barely audible tape. “What happened happened. He took advantage of you. We need to tell you that this is what happened. We need you to tell us as graphically as you can what happened.”
Defense attorneys questioned whether the approach could have tainted the investigation. But Leiter and his former colleague in the case, state police Cpl. Scott Rossman, did not see it that way, they testified.
“Each of these accusers was very, very seriously injured and concerned,” Leiter said. “We had told them, especially prior to going to (the) grand jury, that they wouldn’t be alone, that there were others.”
Sandusky’s lawyers asked Rossman if Leiter had discussed their testimony in the hall.
Rossman said he had not. The defense then recalled Leiter, who said he had discussed his testimony with his former partner.
Debra Erdley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7996 or [email protected]. Adam Smeltz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5676 or [email protected].