Prosecutors in the trial of former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky are asking NBC to turn over the tapes of an interview with him that had unaired creepy segments. It is not clear why NBC chose not to air the statements where Sandusky appears almost self-incriminating. There is no reason for NBC to protect Sandusky so many of us are perplexed why such revealing lines were left unaired.
The testimony of witnesses in the trial has been incredibly disturbing and, if true, show a pedophile operating in the virtual open. It has been particularly damaging to the reputation of coach Joe Paterno who was allegedly told by an assistant coach that he walked in on Sandusky having anal sex with a boy in the showers on campus — and appears to have done nothing against his long-time defensive coordinator.
Now, prosecutors want the NBC tape as the final coup de grace. Many of us were surprised by Sandusky and his lawyer doing extensive media appearances at the start of the controversy.
The interview with Bob Costas reportedly included statements like “I didn’t go around seeking out every young person for sexual needs that I’ve helped.” He also stated:
“I’m a very passionate person in terms of trying to make a difference in the lives of some young people,” Sandusky said. “I worked very hard to try to connect with them. To make them feel good about themselves. To be something significant in their lives. Maybe this gets misinterpreted, has gotten depending on. … I know a lot of young people where it hasn’t. I have worked with many, many young people where there has been no misinterpretation of my actions and I have made a very significant difference in their lives.”
“But isn’t what you’re just describing the classic MO of many pedophiles? And that is that they gain the trust of young people, they don’t necessarily abuse every young person. There were hundreds, if not thousands, of young boys you came into contact with, but there are allegations that at least eight of them were victimized. Many people believe there are more to come . . . So it’s entirely possible that you could’ve helped young boy A in some way that was not objectionable while horribly taking advantage of young boy B, C, D and E. Isn’t that possible?”
Sandusky responds with
“Well — you might think that. I don’t know. In terms of — my relationship with so many, many young people. I would — I would guess that there are many young people who would come forward. Many more young people who would come forward and say that my methods and — 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.”
Such statements are generally admissible if authenticated in court. Such interviews can be extremely damaging for defendants because of the impact of visual evidence like videos. Moreover, to make such revealing statements in an interview can be taken as a more “honest” moment than testimony on a stand. Finally, if the defendant does not take the stand, this would be the only time that the jury hears from him. That would be a particularly bad insight or optics for a jury to hear such creepy responses from Sandusky.
I am not sure why this is coming up so late in the trial and after the prosecutors have rested their case. It could be an effort to deter Sandusky from taking the stand. While it is his right to refuse to testify, it always tends to work against a defendant with a jury. The prosecutors could be implicitly threatening that they would seek to use the tape in cross-examination if Sandusky tries to take the stand.
In the end, the tape not only raises questions of why NBC did not air the segments but reaffirms the criticism of the Sandusky and his counsel in how their approached the case in the media in the early stages.