TODAY   |  December 05, 2011

Did Sandusky try to influence witnesses?

A lawyer for one of the alleged victims of Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State football coach who now faces 40 counts of child sex abuse, says Sandusky’s long New York Times interview raises new questions about whether he may have attempted to influence witnesses just before he got indicted. NBC’s Michael Isikoff reports.

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>>> now to the child sexual abuse scandal at penn state . did former assistant football coach jerry sandusky hurt his case even more by speaking out in a long interview with "the new york times." michael isikoff is in state college , pennsylvania, with more on this story. michael, good morning.

>> reporter: good morning, ann. sandusky 's lawyer says he gave the surprising interview because he wanted the public to learn more about the positive aspects of his life. but a lawyer for one of the alleged victims tells nbc news that some of what he said raises new questions about whether sandusky tried to tamper with witnesses before he got indicted.

>> that he didn't know --

>> reporter: it seems an unusual legal strategy, giving public interviews while facing major criminal charges.

>> these allegations are false. i didn't do those things. i don't know.

>> reporter: accused child molester jerry sandusky wants the world to hear his side of the story, but that carries risks.

>> are you sexually attracted to young boys --

>> reporter: last month sunshine dusky stumbled when nbc 's bob costas asked him if he was sexually attracted to young children. a "new york times" reporter gave him a second chance to explain but he wound up needing help from his lawyer.

>> if i say, no, i'm not attracted to boys, that's not the truth because i'm attracted to young people , boys, girls.

>> reporter: sandusky 's lawyer interrupts and speaks with him off camera.

>> yeah, but not sexually. you're attracted because --

>> right. that's what i was trying to say. i enjoy spending time with young people . i enjoy spending time with people.

>> reporter: many legal analysts say sandusky 's attempts to explain himself in public while facing 40 counts of child sex abuse are an unusual strategy and some of what he disclosed could complicate his defense. sandusky said he has stayed in touch with some of his alleged victims, even inviting him to dinner, just months after it was reported a grand jury was investigating him.

>> i had dinner with one of -- you know, this past summer, whose father and he were in my home in the fall, in the previous fall.

>> reporter: but the lawyer for that alleged victim, known as victim six, tells nbc news that when he got sandusky 's dinner invitation, his client was so nervous he went straight to the police.

>> one of the questions it raises in my mind, was this an effort on his part to tamper with witnesses? was it or wasn't it?

>> reporter: the police encouraged victim six to attend the dinner and bug sandusky .

>> they went so far as to inquire if he would be willing to wear a wire.

>> reporter: the alleged victim balked at bugging sandusky , fearing something could go wrong, but agreed to go to the dinner and report back to the police. sandusky 's lawyer told nbc news that two of the alleged victims were actually at that dinner, but nothing improper took place. it was, he said, totally social in nature and pleasant. victim six is now prepared to testify, along with other alleged witnesses, at a crucial hearing in sandusky 's case next week. ann.

>> all right, michael isikoff this morning. michael, thank you.