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Video: Sandusky lawyer: Lack of ‘common sense’

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    ANN CURRY, co-host: Well, the aforementioned Joe Amendola is Jerry Sandusky 's attorney. He now joins us. Thank you for being here and good morning.

    Mr. JOE AMENDOLA (Attorney for Jerry Sandusky): You're welcome.

    CURRY: Did you know that Jerry Sandusky was going to speak out? Was that with your blessing and why did you do it if so?

    Mr. AMENDOLA: We had talked about it, and I explained to Jerry that this was an opportunity for him to tell people how he felt and what has happened in his life, and the fact that he's not guilty of these offenses, and he took that opportunity. In fact, Jerry 's wanted to talk about this for a long, long time, going back over three years with the first allegation that set forth in the alleged victim number one narrative...

    CURRY: Hm.

    Mr. AMENDOLA: ...in the -- in the presentment that was filed against him.

    CURRY: One of the quotes here from him is, "I shouldn't have showered with those kids." Why would your client continue to shower with boys, just on that point alone, even after a mother complained to him that it was inappropriate? Why would he continue to do it?

    Mr. AMENDOLA: An easy answer is he didn't use a whole lot of common sense because obviously he had the warning in the late '90s, in the 1998 situation, and certainly he should have ceased it then. I was not involved with Jerry then, but I've grilled him on that many times. But showering with kids doesn't make him guilty, and that's the point. The point is that he's maintained his innocence and we live in a system that presumes innocence, and yet the public and the media, for the most part, not everybody, but for the most part have tried and convicted him and he hasn't even had a day in court yet.

    CURRY: Well, one of the reasons maybe not to forgive that, but there is a lot of smoke here. The New York Times reports today that close to 10 additional alleged victims have now come forward. So the question has to be raised, how is it possible that so many people who actually don't even know each other, a janitor, an assistant coach , all of these alleged victims , would all have a similar story if something inappropriate didn't happen, if sexual abuse did not happen?

    Mr. AMENDOLA: Because these types of crimes have a common theme and they take a common track. And it's not hard to fabricate allegations. You may remember the -- back, I guess, in the '90s, as I recall, the day care center cases, where the kids said that the people who ran the day care centers were performing Satanic -type activities and were abusing them, and it later turned out that that wasn't the case. What's happening now, in my opinion, is we have a bunch of people who have read the allegations, realized that there's a large university involved and there may be a lot of money involved and lawsuits that are going to certainly come. And until we sort through these new allegations, we have absolutely no idea whether or not they're authentic or not. In fact, until we got the presentment in this case from the attorney general's office, we sat for three years trying to figure out where the allegations were coming from and what they were. And even at this point, we still don't have names of the so-called kids who were involved. We've pieced it together, but we did not get that information from the attorney general's office.

    CURRY: You're raising the question, you're raising the possibility, implying that a large number of people, including these alleged victims , are lying. Are you calling this a lie?

    Mr. AMENDOLA: Isn't that -- you're in journalism, isn't that a possibility, in fairness? What we're saying is we plan to investigate this and find out if that's a possibility. Is it possible that Jerry did all these things? Of course, and if he did, they're the most serious types of offenses that anyone could commit upon children, and he should be punished accordingly. But what if he didn't? What if he -- what if he is innocent? And his life will never be the same as the lives of the people at Penn State .

    CURRY: One of the most damning bits of evidence against him is this eyewitness account by this assistant coach , Michael McQueary , who says he witnessed the rape of a 10-year-old boy. NBC News has received a -- has obtained an email that he wrote in which he said he did the right thing and that there is more to this story. So the question is, why would this assistant coach lie when not staying silent would predictably open him up to intense criticism?

    Mr. AMENDOLA: And that's the number one allegation we're looking into right now. We are looking for the young man involved who's now in his 20s. We believe we've found him and if we have found him he's telling a very different story than Mike McQueary and that's big news.

    CURRY: Were -- are you saying that he is saying that what Mike McQueary is alleging, that he was raped, was wrong?

    Mr. AMENDOLA: He's saying it never happened. So...

    CURRY: But you're not sure if it's the same young man.

    Mr. AMENDOLA: That's what we're trying to do. I'm trying to be responsible just like you folks and I'm trying to get the facts. I'm trying to make sure that this young man is, in fact, the young man who Mr. McQueary said he saw in the shower with Jerry .

    CURRY: Have you talked to a lot of these victims ? Have you talked to victims who said in fact it is true as we have heard from the attorney from one of the victims ?

    Mr. AMENDOLA: We haven't talked -- we haven't talked to the people who have alleged these things happened, but I can tell you this. One of the victims as set forth in number four, the alleged victim, was as recently as two years ago at Jerry 's house with his girlfriend and baby, saying that he wanted Jerry and his wife to be part of their family. Now, obviously, the other side of that is that's what victims do who are abused. They're confused about how they relate to the people who are the abusers.

    CURRY: Right. Right.

    Mr. AMENDOLA: And that's all well and good, but it still opens up the possibility that Jerry 's innocent. He has two...

    CURRY: On that note...

    Mr. AMENDOLA: ..he has two other kids who saw him as recently as this summer and went out to dinner with him who are contained in these presentments.

    CURRY: All right. Well, Joe Amendola , we have to leave it there. We're pleased that you joined us and thank you so much for that perspective. And we'll -- obviously, that is not the last of it. All right, it is now 7:18. Once again, here's Matt.

By
TODAY contributor
updated 11/15/2011 9:06:21 AM ET 2011-11-15T14:06:21

While Jerry Sandusky’s lawyer maintained his client’s innocence on TODAY Tuesday, he conceded that the former Penn State assistant football coach had some lapses in judgment.

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Video: Sandusky lawyer: Lack of ‘common sense’ (on this page)

TODAY spoke with attorney Joe Amendola Tuesday after Sandusky, in an exclusive "Rock Center" interview Monday with Bob Costas, admitted to showering with young boys but denied being a pedophile. The former coach insisted he's innocent of charges he sexually abused children.

Story: Jerry Sandusky to Bob Costas: 'I shouldn't have showered with those kids

“The easy answer is he didn’t use a whole lot of common sense because obviously he had the warning in the late ‘90s, in the 1998 situation, and certainly should’ve ceased it then,’’ Amendola told TODAY about Sandusky's showering with boys. “I’ve grilled him on that many times, but showering with kids doesn’t make him guilty.’’

“In retrospect, you know, I shouldn’t have showered with those kids,’’ Sandusky told Costas. “That’s what hits me the most.’’

A grand jury report says Sandusky sexually assaulted eight boys over the course of 15 years. The allegations include reports of Paterno’s former top assistant raping boys on the Penn State campus. Current assistant Mike McQueary said he witnessed Sandusky sexually abusing a young boy in the shower in a campus building in 2002.

"I would say that's false,’’ Sandusky told Costas. “We were showering, and horsing around. And (the boy) actually turned all the showers on and was actually sliding across the floor. And we were, as I recall, possibly like snapping a towel, horseplay."

Story: Military college 'sorry' about sex abuse inaction

In another report, a janitor says he saw Sandusky performing a sex act on a young boy in the Penn State locker room in 2000, which he also denied.

“Because these types of crimes have a common theme and they take a common track, it’s not hard to fabricate allegations,’’ Amendola told Curry. “The point is that he has maintained his innocence, and we live in a system that has presumes innocence and yet the public and the media, not everybody, but for the most part, have tried and convicted him, and he hasn’t had his day in court yet.’’

The explosive allegations against Sandusky have rocked the Penn State community, resulting in the firing of legendary head coach Joe Paterno and several other university officials. On Monday, the CEO of Sandusky’s youth charity, Second Mile, resigned.

Amendola intimated the accusers could have financial aims.

Video: Sandusky: I’m not a pedophile (on this page)

“What’s happening now, in my opinion, is that we have a bunch of people who have read the allegations, realize that there is a large university involved and there maybe is a lot of money involved in lawsuits that are going to certainly come,’’ Amendola said. “Until we sort through these allegations, we have absolutely no idea if they’re authentic or not.’’

The names of the accusers have not been revealed to Sandusky’s attorneys, although Amendola said they have found a man, now in his 20s, who may be the boy that McQueary claims Sandusky sexually assaulted in the shower in 2002.

“We believe we found him, and if we have found him, he’s telling a very different story than Mike McQueary,’’ Amendola said. “He’s saying it never happened.’’

Despite a report by The New York Times that close to 10 more alleged victims have come forward since Sandusky’s arrest, Amendola maintains all of them could be lying.

“Isn’t that a possibility?’’ Amendola said. “What we’re saying is we plan to investigate this and find out if that’s a possibility. Is it possible that Jerry did all these things? Of course. And if he did, they’re the most serious types of offenses that anyone could commit upon children and should be punished accordingly. But what if he didn’t? What if he’s innocent? His life will never be the same.’’

TODAY
Former Penn State football defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, being taken into police custody on Nov. 5.

Asked the question of why so many alleged victims would come forward if nothing inappropriate or illegal had occurred, Sandusky told Costas, “I would guess that there are many young people who would come forward,’’ Sandusky said. “Many more young people who would come forward and say that my methods and what I had done for them made a very positive impact on their life.

“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."

When asked if he was sexually attracted to young boys, Sandusky struggled at first: "Sexually attracted? You know, I enjoy young people. I love to be around them. But no, I'm not sexually attracted to young boys."

Another alleged victim of Sandusky’s was at Sandusky’s home as recently as two years ago, asking Sandusky and his wife to be part of his life, Amendola claims.

“Obviously the other side of that is, that’s what victims do who are abused — they are confused about how they relate to the people who are the abusers,’’ Amendola said. “That’s all well and good, but it still opens up the possibility that Jerry is innocent.’’

With lurid allegations against Sandusky dominating the headlines, why would Amendola let his client reveal, in the interview with Costas, things like, “I have horsed around with kids. I have showered after workouts. I have hugged them, and I have touched their leg without intent of sexual contact?"

“We had talked about it, and I explained to Jerry that this was an opportunity for him to tell people how he felt and what has happened in his life and the fact that he is not guilty of these offenses,’’ Amendola said. “He took that opportunity. Jerry has wanted to talk about this for a long, long time.’’

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