Sandusky waives right to preliminary hearing

By Mark Shade and Dave Warner, Reuters

BELLEFONTE, Pennsylvania — Former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky on Tuesday abruptly waived his right to a preliminary hearing on child sex abuse charges, delaying by several months the first public testimony from his accusers. Sandusky, 67, has maintained his innocence on 52 charges of molesting 10 boys over more than a decade. “We are not in any way conceding guilt. Today’s decision was a tactical measure,” Joe Amendola, Sandusky’s defense attorney, told reporters outside the courtroom. The case will now head to trial, but the date could be set for months or even over a year away.

Even as the courtroom drama was unfolding, a U.S. Senate subcommittee prepared to hold a hearing on whether to tighten requirements on reporting child abuse.

Sandusky also waived a Jan. 11 arraignment hearing where charges against him would be read. The next procedural hearing in the case will be on March 22, the court website said. Tuesday’s hearing had been expected to determine whether there was enough evidence to bring Sandusky for trial. “The decision is surprising,” Pennsylvania Deputy Attorney General Marc Costanzo said of Sandusky’s waiving the hearing. Costanzo said that prosecutors had 11 witnesses — including some alleged victims — ready to testify that Sandusky was a serial child sex abuser. Sandusky’s decision immediately prompted speculation that he may seek a deal to plead guilty in return for a reduced prison sentence. “I think the chances are really good” of a plea bargain, said Slade McLaughlin, a lawyer representing an unidentified man listed in court documents as Victim One. But Costanzo said there is no talk of such a deal at this point.