Jerry Sandusky: “The Great Pretender”

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Jerry Sandusky, the former defensive coordinator for the Penn State Nittany Lions, once dubbed himself “The Great Pretender.” It grew out of his involvement in a band while participating in summer camps for The Second Mile. Shocker. He wrote about his penchant for “pretending” in his 2000 autobiography, Touched (yeah, I get the irony…I also get that you can’t get your hands on this book anywhere — and it’s fetching upwards of $100 on eBay).

In Touched, Sandusky wrote a lot about his involvement with children, including wrestling, hugging, and swimming with boys. He mentions a rap song that some of the kids wrote about him: “His name is Jer/You better beware/He has gray hair/But he has no flair.”

Hmmm. That doesn’t sound terribly flattering. And, “you better beware”? That sounds somewhat sinister.

Interestingly enough, Sandusky claims that part of his motivation to found The Second Mile was to follow in the footsteps of his parents. They ran a recreation center (the family lived in the apartment above the rec center) and his father, Artie Sandusky, coached football, basketball, and wrestling.

A sign in Artie Sandusky’s office read: “Don’t give up on a bad boy, because he might turn out to be a great young man.” Like his son would later do, the elder Sandusky tutored neighborhood children and took in troubled kids.

As for the name of the organization — “The Second Mile” — Sandusky said it struck him after a sermon at church spoke of going the extra mile.

In spite of being “awkward and shy” around the opposite sex, Sandusky’s mother encouraged him to pursue Dottie Gross, a young woman he had met at a picnic in 1965. They were married the following year. The two learned they could not have children and, over time, adopted six — five boys and one girl. Three of the children were adopted as infants and three were adopted after entering the Sandusky household as foster children. Two of the children came to be with the Sanduskys through The Second Mile.

The Second Mile initially was created as a group foster home for boys — eight of them. Over time, however, The Second Mile grew into much more — an organization that served the entire state, had a budget of $1 million-plus, and offered free camps every summer to its participants. Jerry Sandusky’s involvement grew as well. He took children everywhere…games, picnics, and dinners. In fact, children were so often a fixture that they became known as “Jerry’s kids.”

While writing his book with co-author Kip Richael, he reportedly had to be reminded repeatedly to discuss football stories. After all, “that’s what you’re famous for,” Richael reportedly pointed out during the writing process. Odd.

Another interesting tidbit is the lack of sentimentality regarding Joe Paterno. After being coached by Paterno for four years and working side-by-side with him for three-plus decades, Sandusky’s references to Paterno lack a level of intimacy, which is peculiar. He mentions one specific incident in the late ’60s, when Paterno advised him, “I would like to be able to recommend you for future coaching jobs, but I don’t want to recommend a guy who’s going to act like a complete goofball.”

Also worth noting is a lack of discussion of women in his book, other than his wife and daughter. He does write extensively, though, about boys, and his love for them, especially the “special” ones who he had grown close to over the years. Photographs of children from The Second Mile are everywhere; his home and his office. He spoke of them in his book: “They are kids that have touched my life and have been a part of me for a long, long time. They are people that I can never leave.”

However, one former Nittany Lion — who, coincidentally never played for Sandusky — Matt Hahn, said he saw Sandusky around campus often, almost always with children. He admits that no one thought anything of it. He did, though, think something of Joseph Amendola’s (Sandusky’s attorney) assertion that jocks hugging in the shower was normal.

“Let me make one thing clear,” Hahn told CNN. “There’s no hugging in the shower between any guys, and nobody is rubbing my back and I’m not rubbing anybody’s back, I can tell you that. You hear a 60-year-old man is showering with a 10-year-old boy, that’s enough for me to say, ‘Whoa, that’s not a good thing.'”

Speaking of “Great Pretender,” retired FBI profiler Jim Clemente discussed the Sandusky scandal. According to Clemente, an expert on sex crimes, Sandusky has “all the hallmarks” of a child molester. Another shocker. He discussed the Bob Costas interview with CBS, specifically focusing on the “Are you sexually attracted to underage boys” question.

Because he hesitated (and repeated the question), Clemente said Sandusky was “trying to avoid the question. He’s repeating the question to get time to think of an appropriate answer that he thinks will pass muster. He’s also showing that, basically, he is deceiving when he answers that question, because he can’t just spontaneously answer it. He then also goes on to change it from underaged boys to young people. He’s trying to distance himself from actually the things that he did and that are described in the allegations.”

Clemente was also disturbed by Sandusky’s discussion of the 2002 incident, which was witnessed by Mike McQueary.

“When he was asked about the McCreary allegations, he basically blames the kid,” Clemente said. “He basically says, ‘We were in the shower and the kid turned on all of the showers and he was sliding around,’ blaming a child for acting like a child. And then he goes on to say that, ‘We were, as I recall, possibly snapping towels.’ He can’t even buy into his own lies. He’s deceiving people. He’s coming up with a story that he hopes he can prove or somebody can’t disprove and he’s not even buying into it himself. It’s just very disturbing.”

In the days after the infamous Bob Costas interview, legal analysts and lawyers are in shock that any attorney would allow a client of Sandusky’s stature (especially given the circumstances) to speak publicly. I discussed the Bob Costas interview at length and am still amazed that Joseph Amendola, who should have his client’s best interests at heart (or in mind), would encourage his client to speak to Bob Costas, period.

Let’s ignore the fact that no questions or topics were discussed beforehand and, seemingly, Sandusky was not prepped for the interview. Sandusky’s attorney defended Sandusky’s interview, as well as his decision to let him speak publicly. It just boggles the mind.

Amendola has been saying that people need to hear from him, to hear Sandusky’s side of the story (of which he has none, in my opinion), and understand that his thought process is the reason his answers come off as rambling and disjointed. “He’s slow in response, he takes his time, he thinks about what he’s being asked, and he gives an answer. And I think that the more people who hear him explain that he didn’t commit the acts of which he’s been charged, the better off he’s going to be down the road.”

Um, yeah. No. Amendola has also revealed his defense strategy (I can’t believe this guy practices law, seriously) “because up until we went public, individuals were just assuming that what the commonwealth witnesses were saying was true.” What?!?! And Amendola thinks that the accused pedophile saying he didn’t do it is going to help his case? Wow. Amendola also plans to attack the credibility of two of the alleged victims (classy!) and Mike McQueary. I have to say, I’ve never heard of an attorney revealing their defense strategy. Isn’t that why it’s called “strategy”?

Lawyers reacted intensely to the Sandusky interview, though. “It’s incomprehensible to me he would put him on without knowing how bad he would be,” attorney Steve Coffey said. Coffey’s partner, Tom DiNovo, said, “If you didn’t believe before why lawyers should not let their clients talk … It should be page one of a law school text book.”

Attorney Cheryl Coleman said, “It’s insane. I can’t imagine letting your client do that. I can’t imagine any set of facts in the world where you let your client do that. It’s always possible that he has some real good reason that we don’t know about, but I can’t think of any.”

On the State College front, Jerry Sandusky’s home was vandalized again. Someone broke a front window during the morning hours of Nov. 18. This marked the second incident of vandalism, as a bedroom window had been broken on Nov. 10. State College Police will not provide security detail, as outlined in the police report:

We’re not going to be able to station somebody at the house. We aren’t in a position staffing-wise to provide any level of permanent security for any individual. We will continue to patrol the neighborhood for parking issues…When people have ongoing problems we encourage them to install cameras to provide evidence of what might be happening. It’s not real expensive. Other options could be the installation of motion detectors, lighting, alarm systems or private security.

I’m pretty sure the Sanduskys can afford security cameras, motion detectors, and an alarm system. Or not. I don’t really care. I’m not saying that I condone violence…I’m just saying I understand. And, if you’re that much in denial (as the Sanduskys seem to be), then it’s their problem.


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  1. says

    Another well written post on this disgusting mess. Friday, I took the time to read the entire Grand Jury Indictment and it is so horrifying. I am so bothered by the fact that there were so many opportunities to stop this monster that were missed or deliberately covered up.

    His lawyer is such an idiot. I must have missed the part where he said jocks hugging in the shower was normal. What person in their right mind would think that was true? I think anyone would know better.

    I listened to the Sandusky interview on your blog the other day and then again yesterday. Every time he opens his mouth, I get the creeps. I can hear his guilt in his voice. When I look at his picture, I see a monster.

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