November 15th, 2011
12:15 PM ET

Jerry Sandusky's interview confuses, infuriates critics

It's being called Jerry Sandusky’s "Hail Mary."

When the former Penn State assistant coach told NBC Monday night that he is innocent of charges of sexually abusing boys for at least 15 years, many people on social media and in opinion columns took the position that it was indeed the equivalent of a last-ditch, go-for-broke attempt to win a football game with a long pass into the end zone.

It was a move that many seem to think missed by a mile – and in some cases may have made matters worse for the man at the center of a scandal that has rocked Penn State and all of college sports.

In a telephone interview with NBC's "Rock Center With Brian Williams," Sandusky admitted that some details in the graphic 23-page grand jury report released earlier this month are correct.

"I could say I have done some of those things," he said. "I have horsed around with kids I have showered (with) after workouts. I have hugged them, and I have touched their legs without intent of sexual contact."

And not everyone is pleased with what transpired in Sandusky's interview with Bob Costas.

Dan Wetzel, writing for Yahoo, was scathing in his reaction to Sandusky’s explanation of what happened.

“The voice over the phone sounded as weak and pathetic as the explanations and excuses it was trying to spread,” his column began. “Want to hear from a monster? Well there was Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State football assistant coach trying to defend himself to Bob Costas on Monday."

Wetzel wrote that he thought the interview gave an insight into the mind of Sandusky and his attorney, Joseph Amendola, who were hoping to sway how he was viewed in the court of public opinion before they headed to a court of law. After all, the child rape allegations have been plastered on every TV news channel, every newspaper and website worldwide. Perhaps it was an attempt to even out the scales of balance. But for Wetzel, the interview did anything but that.

“Sandusky’s denial and Amendola’s legal work may help in a court of law, where Sandusky, 67, maintains a presumption of innocence," he wrote. "It does nothing here in this opinion column, or, in the court of public opinion where his supposed lack of awareness of what is and isn’t appropriate will infuriate. There is neither an acceptable explanation nor an appropriate reason for an old man to shower with a young boy; let alone horse around, touch or wrestle with that boy in the shower.

"None.”

Many legal experts also questioned why Sandusky chose to speak out at all.

“Why would you put your client on national TV?” New York-based attorney Tom Harvey said to the New York Daily News. “You’d have to say it certainly deviates from the norm that you would let a criminal defendant talk about his alleged acts on national television. It’s hard to believe.”

SI.com: How Sandusky interview could hurt his defense, Penn State

Some experts, including CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin, questioned why he would admit to any inappropriate conduct.

"It's such a classic fact pattern for him to admit that he showered with these children and horsed around and confessed to touching them," she said on CNN's "AC360." "In my mind, that's already misdemeanor child sex abuse. So I disagree when the attorney says nothing criminal happened here. That, in and of itself, is criminal ... I'm flabbergasted."

Veteran defense attorney Mark Geragos, who defended Michael Jackson against child molestation charges, urged caution in the case.

"Is there anyone who gives a presumption of innocence at this point? No," Geragos said. "Before we go and we say this is a done deal ... and condemn them and everything else, I think maybe we step back and take a deep breath for a second."

Some critics seemed confused about the way Sandusky spoke about the allegations.

Mac Engel, writing for McClatchy Newspapers, argued that Sandusky's answers to pointed questions worked against him if he was trying to lessen the impact of what was alleged.

"Sandusky paints himself as a man who is caught up in one massive series of unfortunate miscommunications; that this whole nightmare is nothing more than what is now a growing list of people who incorrectly interpreted his behavior," he wrote. "Nothing in this approximately 10-minute interview is apt to change the public’s perception that Sandusky’s behavior is anything other than amoral, criminal and sick under any code in any society."

Engel wrote that he believed the interview may have heightened an already bright spotlight on Sandusky and his views of what is morally right and wrong.

"This is a man who lives in a world of grays on a subject that is strictly black and white. As a relatively new parent, I am certain of those colors," he wrote. "Sandusky told Costas that he 'hugged (young boys) and I have touched their legs without intent of sexual contact'

"That’s it. The end. Get him the hell away from kids. There is no 'Oops' in this area.”

TV viewers and media personalities who tuned in to the interview reacted similarly in a few instances.

ESPN columnist and television analyst Jemele Hill tweeted that the interview reminded her of an interview with R. Kelly about allegations of his obsession with sleeping with underage girls. The R&B singer was acquitted of child pornography charges related to the allegations.

Hill tweeted: "Jerry Sandusky's bizarre answer about young boys, reminded me of when @Toure asked R Kelly abt young girls http://youtu.be/FKfh7Jp4lds."

Many others retweeted that link, which had a clip of the interview, saying they felt a similar vibe from how the two answered questions about sexual allegations.

But much more of the immediate reaction and focus seemed to be a decision to stop listening to what Sandusky had to say.

About midway through the interview a flurry of tweets indicated users had had enough and were switching channels to watch Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was giving her first extended interview on ABC’s “20/20” since being shot in Arizona in January.  (Watch Giffords speak)

The Detroit Free Press devoted a separate story to that angle, writing  that many users "noted that the intersection of the two interviews displayed what could be perceived as the best and worst elements of humanity."

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Filed under: Crime • Football • Jerry Sandusky • Penn State • Sports
soundoff (374 Responses)
  1. Willowspring

    If he is not found guilty, his accusers will have to file suit themselves and even make it a class action suit on behalf of all his victims. Then let that suit clear things up.

    November 15, 2011 at 11:41 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Alan

    Sandusky "the pervert" was outed in 1995 and again in 1998 & 99 and again in 2002 ....Who's been covering for this guy ? That's the $ 60,000.00 question here.....What political system allowed this sick pervert to prey on children ? The good ole boy's of the COMMONWEALTH of PENNSYLVANIA is who !!!! This case needs a truely independant investigation , preferably a committee of RETIRED federal agents , because big heads will roll

    November 15, 2011 at 11:53 pm | Report abuse |
  3. gremlinus

    Even he doesn't sound like he believes himself

    November 15, 2011 at 11:54 pm | Report abuse |
  4. idi amin

    Hangings too good for him...burnings too good for him...he should be cut into little pieces and buried alive. Call Captain Stearn.

    November 15, 2011 at 11:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Maurice

      Isn't that what Hanover Fist said?

      November 16, 2011 at 12:11 am | Report abuse |
    • RikGuido

      ...no cutting, no hanging...incarceration in GENERAL POPULATION of a prison would do the trick...look up the stats on the lifespan of convicted child molesters in general pop of a prison...guys that would kill their own mothers for the stupidest reasons, whose moral code is so skewed as to cause most people to thank God, Buddha, the Great Pumpkin or who ever, for the existance of prisons; have a real hatred of child rapists....the best he could hope for is for someone to sign on to be his own personal proctologist...but he probably wouldn't live that long...or survive the first exam....

      November 16, 2011 at 1:02 am | Report abuse |
  5. us1776

    Sandusky's interview infuriates anybody except a pedophile !!

    .

    November 16, 2011 at 12:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Jimbo

      I have two thumbs and do not disagree.

      November 16, 2011 at 12:43 am | Report abuse |
  6. All Smiles

    He has that winning smile that inspires confidence and trust.

    http://tinyurl.com/8xlbfre

    November 16, 2011 at 12:12 am | Report abuse |
  7. Loraine

    I would love to sit on that jury!

    November 16, 2011 at 12:18 am | Report abuse |
  8. Montecore

    Sandusky looks like that clown from 'It' but without the make up. Both are inherently evil. If Sandusky had any honor (which he doesn't), he would kill himself. Wonder how much the wife knew. Ever question why he'd visit the 10 year olds in the basement at night or take them to the hotels when at away games????

    His lawyer that explains Sandusky was just partaking in 'jock' behavior is as stupid as Sandusky is a pervert.

    November 16, 2011 at 12:22 am | Report abuse |
    • RikGuido

      the jock behavior remark is odd coming from a guy that, at the age of like 46 or something, got a 17 year old girl pregnant...

      November 16, 2011 at 1:06 am | Report abuse |
  9. Jerry Sandusky

    I love little boys butzz!!

    November 16, 2011 at 12:23 am | Report abuse |
  10. Rhookie

    Something is happening in this website oil trading academy. They offer 2 days FREE trial and 90% accuracy in trading. Try to check the website it is a cool offer to learn oil trading.

    November 16, 2011 at 12:25 am | Report abuse |
  11. beenthere

    This is disgusting. All of the people on this post. I was a victim. This ranting about Sandusky is NOT helpful. To most victims this ranting is exactly what most of us don't want. Why? Because we didn't have the strength to do be angry to begin with. It brings shame not vigilance. There is a reason professions ask parents to STOP talking about it after disclosure. It is called contamination. All of you are only contaminating the victims by this anger and rage. The victims don't need your outrage or your judgment. They need support. But not like this. At this point I don't know whether to be more disgusted with Sandusky or how all of you react. If you were my parent, with your reactions, I would NEVER disclose to you. Why? Because things are frightening already and a victim needs calmness and stability. Not an emotional adult that can't control themselves. That behavior is too much like the predator. Do you have no shame? You're all complaining about Sandusky and totally lost sight of who this is really about...great job society for deterring from what is important here: the victims. You all just prioritized the predator and lost sight of those kids.

    November 16, 2011 at 12:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Do not assume that those who vilify Sandusky have no compassion for the victims

      When a monster like Sandusky ruins people's lives and refuses to accept responsibility and even hurts his victims worse by fighting the charges, it is perfectly reasonable for any reasonable human being to express rage and demand justice. I would assume that the most passionate bloggers here are those who care the most about the victims. As a parent, if someone did the things alleged here to one of my children, I would be a pillar of strength and support for my child. However I would demand and expect harsh and brutal justice for such an individual and if that fell short, I would not lose sleep if bad things happened to such a bad person.

      November 16, 2011 at 12:43 am | Report abuse |
  12. shewbox

    this guy needs to commit suicide

    November 16, 2011 at 12:28 am | Report abuse |
  13. Rhookie

    I visited a website and subscribed the 2 days FREE trial in oil trading room and it is 90% accuracy in trading. Check the website oil trading academy.

    November 16, 2011 at 12:29 am | Report abuse |
  14. Rhookie

    I love it and you should love it too. It is a trading room offering 2 days free trial and 90% accuracy in trading. Search it, oil trading academy.

    November 16, 2011 at 12:30 am | Report abuse |
  15. stonedwhitetrash

    worked once as a bodyguard for a very wealthy man and it was disgusting to listen to him and his friends reassuring each other that the children they molested were enjoying it. Went to the police and got nowhere except fired

    November 16, 2011 at 12:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Tricky situation

      It's the same issue faced by police and prosecutors on any legal case; you need solid verifiable evidence and multiple witnesses. If the guy is still alive maybe you can still help to bring him down. What goes around comes around.

      November 16, 2011 at 12:57 am | Report abuse |
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