Jerry Sandusky is this years sexual predator enigma in a new millennium that seemed replete with examples. Sanduskys prospects werent looking very good at trial before his verdict was served. To make matters worse for him, a tape emerged of an interview he had with NBCs Bob Costas showcasing a verbal flub where he may have implicated culpability. If he takes the stand, he will be cross-examined with his speech in the video by prosecutors.
The video shown to jurors has been deemed to contain an editing mistake. In the one shown in the courtroom, the exchange between Costas and Sandusky was repeated twice. The portion shown to the courtroom was an unaired clip from an interview done with Costas in studio and Sandusky over the phone. The problem, despite the fact that Sandusky is innocent until proven guilty, is that his stammers appear to implicate his own guilt.
In the interview, Costas asks Sandusky if it was possible that he might have helped some youth in a favorable way, and others in a unfavorable way. Costas was conceding that Sandusky and his charity may have done some good, helping boy “A”, while horribly taking advantage of boy “B, C and D”. Sandusky seemed to stammer through a slow response, saying “And I didn't go around seeking out every young person for sexual needs that I've helped. There are many that I didn't have -- I hardly had any contact with who I have helped in many, many ways." Sandusky certainly didn’t intend to say this, but it came out, potentially being a verbal slip.
In Sandusky’s defense, lawyers are reportedly going to argue that he suffers from histrionic personality disorder, an uncommon psychiatric disorder that causes emotional liability and strange, overly affectionate behavior. One has to admit that it is a genius defense from a lawyer. It’s not foolproof, and it won’t get him a not guilty verdict, but it could explain away some of the affectionate letters and contact with youth that seemed to verge sexual affection. It can’t however explain the physical abuse reported by the children and by staff. Histrionic personality disorder does not cause men to rape or sexually molest young boys.
The problem with Sandusky’s defense is that this idea comes out too little and too late. In something as serious as Sandusky’s case, anything that doesn’t explain away the sexual behavior is useless because that will overshadow all else. Explaining away Sandusky’s phone calls and quasi-love letters wouldn’t help jurors forget the more serious allegations against him. Additionally, the “rare psychiatric diagnosis” is such a common ploy for these desperate cases, and such a hail-Mary move, that many jurors and the public might view the case as already decided. It simply looks desperate, partly because the precedent has been set by past cases of abuse where this last minute defense has been attempted.
Sometimes it’s hard to admit the obvious, but that’s not what the legal system does. Jerry Sandusky hasn’t yet been proven guilty. But he’s guilty in the eyes of the American public, and that in itself could affect the Jury.
This article was written by Bradley Morton, he is a law student interested in the legal discovery process and hoping to one day be an attorney. He believes that technology has the power to revolutionize legal proceedings, through things like electronic discovery Document Review.
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