STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – Attorney Al Lindsay stood at the dais of a three-star hotel’s meeting room Monday to proclaim Jerry Sandusky’s case “is not going to go away.”
While many in and around Penn State wish it would, Lindsay will soon make another bid to reverse the former longtime assistant football coach’s 2012 conviction on 45 counts of child molestation.
“One of the problems we have confronted that people don’t want to deal with is this: Suppose I’m telling you the truth,” said Lindsay, who took over the case five years ago. “Suppose that Jerry Sandusky is absolutely innocent. Do you realize the horror of what this has brought on a family, a man an institution – and it’s all a big lie? Suppose that I’m right.”
“You are,” a voice from the audience responded.
The composition of those who attended the news conference about a mile from Beaver Stadium included representatives from two local television stations, the Centre Daily Times, the Penn State college paper (the Daily Collegian) and a couple bloggers. Some of the others could be described as “Penn State truthers” or “Paterno-deniers,” pejorative designations for those who believe the conclusions made in the Sandusky investigation that led to upheaval in Happy Valley were flawed.
It’s easier to find those who believe Joe Paterno, who was fired in the wake of Sandusky’s 2011 arrest after 62 years at Penn State, did not cover up Sandusky’s acts. And the attention paid – at least nationally – has subsided since 2012, the year Paterno died, Sandusky was convicted, the Freeh report that alleged a cover-up was released and the university was sanctioned by the NCAA.
Lindsay told USA TODAY Sports after the news conference that he will file a petition with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court next week to seek a new trial of Sandusky. A similar filing to the Pennsylvania Superior Court was denied, but Sandusky was granted a re-sentencing request. Sandusky, now 75, was originally sentenced to 30-60 years in prison.
While Lindsay said he’s still drafting the petition, one of the subjects he will argue to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is that exculpatory evidence was not disclosed to Sandusky’s original team prior to his trial in violation of federal law. Lindsay said that includes the testimony of two alleged victims, who disclosed new molestation claims while on the witness stand.
Lindsay along with others at Monday’s news conference also pointed to a 2018 report from five current and two former members of Penn State’s board of trustees that alleged flaws in Freeh’s investigation. The Philadelphia Inquirer first reported on the report this month.
“It was the product of external influences and was not by any measure objective or the result of independence,” the board of trustee members concluded in the report. “In short, it is both unreliable and misleading. Our University paid $8.3 million for an ‘independent investigation’ that was neither independent nor a fair and thorough investigation.”
Freeh, the former head of the FBI, issued the following statement:
“A small but vocal segment of the Penn State community, the deniers continue to detract from the real victims in this case by trying to convince the public that Coach Paterno and his football legacy were somehow instead the victims. The deniers continue to embarrass the many thousands of outstanding Penn State students, faculty, and alumni by blindly disregarding the uncontroverted facts in favor of a misguided agenda.”
Sandusky, meanwhile, sits in a prison about 100 miles away, where he was visited by his wife of more than 50 years, Dottie, on Monday. Dottie Sandusky told USA TODAY Sports that he’s in frequent contact with Lindsay.
“Jerry drives him crazy,” Dottie Sandusky said.
If this latest bid in a state court or a future one in federal court are successful, Lindsay’s work will truly begin.
“People are going to ask, ‘What if you get it? Aren’t you like the dog chasing car?’ ” Lindsay said. “Is there any way he could possibly get a fair trial?’ The answer is ‘no,’ but we don’t care. If we get a new trial, it’s the not a situation where you have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. We recognize, ladies and gentlemen, if we get a new trial for Jerry Sandusky, we have to prove his innocence beyond all doubt. That’s what I intend to do.”
Follow A.J. Perez on Twitter @byajperez