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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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.
“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.’’
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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