Sandusky Trial Hears Claim That Victim 1 Hopes for 'Nice New Jeep' Out of Case

June 19, 2012
Sandusky Trial Hears Claim That Victim 1 Hopes for 'Nice New Jeep' Out of Case
Sandusky Trial Hears Claim That Victim 1 Hopes for 'Nice New Jeep' Out of Case (ABC News)

A man identified as Victim 1 in the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse trial said he would get a "nice new Jeep" and his mother dreamed of a big house with room for her dogs to run after airing accusations that Victim 1 had been sexually molested, a witness testified today.

The testimony by a neighbor of Victim 1 was meant to bolster the contention of Sandusky's legal team that some of his accusers have altered or exaggerated their stories after being goaded by eager investigators and prosecutors, and by civil lawyers hoping to file lucrative lawsuits.

Sandusky's defense is expected to rest its defense tomorrow, but not before Sandusky's wife Dottie -- and possibly Sandusky -- take the stand. Dottie Sandusky is at the courthouse today in case she is called this afternoon.

Sandusky is charged with 51 counts of sex abuse of 10 boys. The jury of seven women and five men is expected to get the case later this week and Sandusky, 68, could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted.

The mother of alleged Sandusky victim identified as Victim 1 was called to the stand today and asked by defense attorney Joseph Amendola whether she had ever expressed hope that by the end of the Sandusky case she would have "a big house in the country with a white fence where the dogs could run."

She said she had never said such a thing.

Amendola quickly called the woman's former next door neighbor who testified that she had said those exact words.

"Yeah she had said about when this all settles out she'll have a nice big house in the country with a fence and the dogs can run free," the man said, adding that Victim 1 had similar sentiments. "One statement he made was, 'When this is over I'll have a nice new Jeep.'"

Amendola also asked the woman about hiring a civil attorney, Michael Bonni, to represent her. The woman said that she had not paid Bonni, a Philadeplhia-based civil attorney, but that she had signed some sort of payment agreement and did not know what it said.

She told Amendola she hired Bonni to protect her from the media, which had learned of Victim 1's name and address and were trying to find out more information about the case through him.

Amendola's defense team built up another part of their strategy during afternoon testimony as they called psychologist Elliot Atkins, who diagnosed Sandusky with histrionic personality disorder after reviewing his case and interviewing him. Reading from psychology text book material, Atkins explained that people who have HPD act out to get attention, act seductively, crave intimacy and affection, and can make people uncomfortable by "hugging with ardor."

He was called to testify about how Sandusky's condition may have influenced the letters that were presented as "creepy love letters" written to Victim 4 during the prosecution's testimony.

"The letters made me feel more confident about my diagnosis," Atkins said. "The book that I read that Mr. Sandusky coauthored absolutely confirmed in my mind this diagnosis was one thing, but when I read letters they made it much clearer that this was the diagnosis."

The prosecution will have the chance to offer a rebuttal expert witness who may have a different professional opinion about the content of the letters.

Sandusky's legal team is trying to counter the powerfully emotional case presented by the prosecution last week that featured eight alleged victims describing, often through tears, how Sandusky allegedly showered them with attention and presents before aggressively sexually assaulting them.

Earlier today, Amendola contended that state troopers "tainted" the sex abuse investigation by prodding potential victims to say that sexual acts occurred between Sandusky and them and encouraged their confessions by saying that other young men had already described the abuse in detail.

Amendola asked two Pennsylvania state troopers whether the potential victims they interviewed at the beginning of the investigation ever said that nothing happened between them and Sandusky, and whether they later changed their stories to say that sexual abuse had occurred. Both investigators agreed that the men had changed their stories during the course of several interviews to provide detailed accounts of being molested or raped.

Amendola suggested that Trooper Scott Rossman and Corporal Joseph Leiter had elicited some of those changes by encouraging the men to say they were abused.

He asked whether the investigators remembered telling Victim 4 during an early interview that "nine other kids" had come forward and some of them had told investigators that oral sex and rape had occurred, according to a transcript from the interview.

Rossman and Leiter denied that they shared with their interviewees specific information about the number of other accusers or sex acts that alleged victims had told them, but Amendola then read a transcript from an interview with the man being identified as Victim 4.

In the interview, Leiter said, "I want to let you know that you are not the only victim... I think there were nine. We interviewed about nine.... You are repeating word for word pretty much that others told us. We know there is a well-defined progression in the way he operated.. Progression goes on for an extended period of time... oral sex..."

Amendola played a tape in which Leiter and Rossman say they are going to pause the recording device to take a break. Rossman and Victim 4 leave to get sodas, and Leiter and Victim 4's attorney, Ben Andreozzi, remain in the interview room with the recording device accidentally still recording.

The two discuss other allegations from alleged victims in the case, and then Andreozzi asks Leiter to share those allegations with his client so that Victim 4 can feel more comfortable talking about what happened to him.

Amendola asked the two investigators whether they had discussed their testimony with one another in the hallway. Rossman said they had not, while Leiter said they had.

He also asked the men whether they had turned off the tape recorder during interviews with other alleged victims and whether they were also told details of what other complainants had said.

Both men said under cross-examination by prosecutor Joseph McGettigan that they had not told alleged victims what to say or to embellish their stories.

They told the prosecutor that it was difficult to get many of the alleged victims to discuss the abuse. One, Leiter said, "curled up in the fetal position at the end of his couch" during questioning.

The investigators were the first strong witnesses to be called for the defense, which has otherwise called a string of character witnesses who have testified that Sandusky had a "wonderful" and "amazing" reputation in the community.

The character witnesses have included neighbors, friends, former players on Sandusky's college football team, and former members of the Second Mile who had spent time at Sandusky's house.