Sandusky witnesses may include Paterno family, Spanier
BELLEFONTE - Former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno's wife and son, the university's deposed ex-president and a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter are among the possible witnesses for the defense in the child sex abuse trial of longtime assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, potential jurors were told Tuesday.
Sandusky's attorneys, Joseph Amendola and Karl Rominger, revealed a list of five dozen possible witnesses during the second phase of jury selection, where 40 potential jurors were asked if they knew or had personal relationships with Sandusky or his accusers and other witnesses.
Among the possible Sandusky witnesses: Jay and Sue Paterno; ex-Penn State President Graham Spanier, who was fired by the university the same night as Paterno; Harrisburg Patriot News reporter Sara Ganim; former Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary and his father John; and Dave Woodle, the chief executive officer of Sandusky's charity, The Second Mile.
The McQuearys - key to substantiating the chain of events following a decade-old incident in the Penn State football facility - testified for the prosecution at a preliminary hearing in Harrisburg last December for the two Penn State officials accused of covering up Sandusky's alleged abuse.
Neither the Paternos nor Ganim testified at that proceeding or others related to the case and it remained unclear Tuesday why Sandusky's attorneys would want them on the witness stand at his trial.
Rominger, under a court-imposed gag order, would not say if the Paternos or Ganim would actually be called to testify and, if they were, what they might be asked. During the selection process, attorneys routinely list far more witnesses than will actually take the stand and are under no obligation to divulge the purpose of a particular witness.
Jay Paterno did not respond to email and Facebook messages Tuesday afternoon.
In her reporting on the case, Ganim, 24, spoke with several of Sandusky's accusers and their families. In April, she and the staff of the Patriot-News won the Pulitzer Prize for local reporting.
Asked Tuesday why her name appeared on the list of potential witnesses, Ganim said, "I have no idea. I really can't talk about it."
The executive editor of the Patriot-News, Cate Barron, did not respond to an email Tuesday asking about Ganim's dual role as a reporter and potential witness and asking whether the newspaper would fight to prevent her from testifying.
Tom Bivins, the John L. Hulteng Chair in Media Ethics at the University of Oregon, said state shield laws would likely protect Ganim if the attorneys wanted her to divulge the names of sources or information they provided to her.
"If she is forced to become involved in the case, which I believe is highly unlikely, her journalistic integrity might certainly be compromised, or viewed by others as compromised - in which case she might want to step away from it," Bivins said.
"However, simply being listed as a potential witness shouldn't disqualify her from covering the trial, and there are those who would say that a professional sense of objectivity would allow her to continue to cover the trial even is she became involved."
Mike McQueary told investigators he witnessed what appeared to be Sandusky in a team shower raping a prepubescent boy. The next day, he said, he reported the matter to Paterno. McQueary testified in December that the incident happened in March 2002, around the university's spring break, but prosecutors last month said it actually occurred in February 2001.
Prosecutors also included McQueary on their list of potential witnesses. They also listed some of the 10 boys who have accused Sandusky of sexual abuse, a psychologist who in 1998 labeled Sandusky a "likely pedophile" and officials with the Keystone Central School District in Clinton County, where Sandusky served as a volunteer assistant football coach and one of the accusers attended high school.
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