Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Soap Opera Comparison in Sandusky Trial Adds Insult to Tragedy

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Soap Opera Comparison in Sandusky Trial Adds Insult to Tragedy

Article excerpt

An accusation of serial child abuse -- and a former Penn State football coach on trial for allegedly sexually abusing young boys in the showers -- isn't some daytime soap opera.

Only a creep would say so.

But Joe Amendola is a defense lawyer, representing Jerry Sandusky, who is charged with raping children under his care. And Mr. Amendola thinks he's starring in a soap.

Asked Tuesday if he'd put Mr. Sandusky on the witness stand, Mr. Amendola said something astonishing.

"Stay tuned," he teased reporters. "Come on, it's like a soap, you have to wait and see."

"Is it 'Days of Our Lives'?" a reporter asked.

"I think it's 'General Hospital,'" Mr. Amendola said. And later he added, "Actually, it could be 'All My Children.'"

"All My Children"?

There were 10 boys who believed Mr. Sandusky cared about them when they were part of The Second Mile, his charity for at-risk youth. They were children once. As men, they testified against him. They testified that Mr. Sandusky put his hands on them and raped them in the showers at Penn State, groped them at university facilities, initiated oral sex at his home on sleepovers.

And his lawyer makes jokes about "All My Children."

A criminal defense lawyer's job is to defend his client, and sometimes that involves making aberrant behavior seem normal. You've seen it in political corruption trials. But in Pennsylvania, Mr. Sandusky's defense took it one step further, arguing that coaches taking showers with kids was no big deal.

If you don't think something's wrong with an adult naked in a shower with kids, then you're not a parent. But this week, Mr. Amendola put witnesses on the stand to say that it's not unusual for grown men to take showers with children at Penn State. The witnesses said it was normal.

So we asked some experienced coaches if it was normal here, in Illinois.

"That type of thing is not part of any culture or system I've been in in high school or college or as a coach," said Brett Detering, first vice president of the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association. "There are separate facilities for coaches and students."

Mr. Detering is the head coach at Anna-Jonesboro High School in southern Illinois. …

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