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. peachy

    Sandusky's wiener needs to be cut off, shoved down his friggin throat and a bullet put between his eyes!!!!!!!!! Piece of crap does not need to be walking free to do it again!!!!

    November 15, 2011 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • WaitWhat?

      agreed! That and a broom stick up his @ss as well

      November 15, 2011 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
  2. LAborn

    He is a sociopath. NO ONE should be giving him ANY air time or room in the press!!!! He is a monster and doesn't deserve anything but a conviction and a sentence (and civil suit fines).

    November 15, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
  3. LAborn

    It is beyond shocking that this man is walking the streets. The judge should be ashamed of themselves!!!!!! He needs to be in JAIL NOW awaiting trail so he doesn't harm another innocent child!!! Wake up judicial system!!!!!

    November 15, 2011 at 9:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tim

      He is INNOCENT until PROVEN guilty. That is how the system works in this country pal.

      November 15, 2011 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • sam

      LAborn, you seem to be rather violent in nature. Because of this, I am going to assume that you are highly likely to act out on your violent urges and could potentially harm another individual. For that reason, I recommend that our judicial system keeps you locked up as well, because my hunch is all the proof I need.

      November 15, 2011 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sherman

      Oh, Tim, Tim, Tim... The justice system would be working just fine and proper if he were awaiting trial in jail. That happens all the time. He is walking the streets right now thanks to a Judge with direct connections to him.

      November 15, 2011 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sherman

      ...And Sam, you illiterate fool, the tone that you see in LABorn (is that your real name?!) is called judgment and indignation. There's nothing violent in anything that he's posted.

      November 15, 2011 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark C

      "He is INNOCENT until PROVEN guilty. That is how the system works in this country pal.:

      Actually, half-wit, serious criminals are quite often held without bail until their trial, as it should be in this case. THAT'S how it works in this country, nitwit.

      November 15, 2011 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • LAborn

      Halfwit, hardly. And I have a conscience which is more than you have......

      November 15, 2011 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • LAborn

      i have to assume that people defending a man who was witnessed by two adults raping a 10 year old boy have serious problems themselves (and obviously don't have children of your own or else you wouldn't be defending this guy).

      November 15, 2011 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • LAborn

      Thank, Marc C and Sherman.

      November 15, 2011 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
  4. USfail

    SO you think this mistrial will happen because of this one interview? Name a news agency that did not pass there on verdict on him already. This is already a mistrial and it thanks to most of you people with hostile responses already to a very emotional situation. The general public failed this one im sorry. You cant have every major and minor news agency in every corner of are country throwing "OPINION'S" out like there fact and expect a fair jury selection. This is are fault just like that Casey Anthony b!t*h. You wanted a quick fix and we allowed the prosecution to go in with uncanny confidence and get beat by a half ass lawyer. Furthermore most media outlets made this more about Paterno than Sanduscky in the initial blitz to get the best horror story out. THERE ARE NO REAL FACTS YET other than an accusation...which still is not a fact.

    November 15, 2011 at 9:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • LAborn

      You are misinformed. As per the grand jury indictment, there are at least two eye witnesses, plus the victims' testimony. The monster even admitted to fondling one of the children to the victim's mother.

      November 15, 2011 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • joey

      at this point, i dont want him in jail, i want him in the public, so the fun can begin

      November 15, 2011 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • steven

      Totally agree with you man, , The media in this country is to exagerate everything in order to make money. Unfortunately there are a lot of dumb people who pretend to give a veredict without not knowing the facts of what really happened and let themselves be influenced by the horror drama media. Anyways, He probably will be free.

      November 15, 2011 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • LAborn

      Steven, read the grand jury indictment. There are no stupid people making assumptions here about this monster.

      November 15, 2011 at 11:05 pm | Report abuse |
  5. banasy©

    @Albany:
    He will be in prison.

    November 15, 2011 at 9:58 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Beadlesaz

    Reminiscent of some of the descriptions of Michael Jackson's interactions with kids. But in MJ's case I believe he may have been a kid who never grew up and had poor judgment in what was acceptable behavior. Sandusky is a predator of the first order.

    November 15, 2011 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
  7. banasy©

    @USFail:
    Read the Grand Jury transcript, then come back and talk.

    November 15, 2011 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
  8. joey

    i only molested him a little bit, geez, gimme a break

    November 15, 2011 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
  9. mike

    I I think the one very telling statement Sandusky made was that, when questioned about whether he felt any guilt about the way that Penn state has been affected by the whole thing, he simply reiterated his innocence. I was surprised he did not comment on the firings and scandal which, pedophile or not, really are his fault. He seems to be in full denial mode, and the powers that seem to be forming to protect him, and thus their own asses, like his charity group and their lawyers, should be ashamed of themselves.

    November 15, 2011 at 10:08 pm | Report abuse |
  10. PJ

    All he did was run around the shower naked with naked little boys playing tag. Only he was tagging what he shouldn't have been.

    November 15, 2011 at 10:11 pm | Report abuse |
  11. bini

    i have a weird feeling that sandusky is mentally handicapped. does anyone else get that vibe? this by no means justifies any of his actions, i just think he's a little "slow".

    November 15, 2011 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Wicked Fairy

    Maybe Sandusky/Attorney are smarter than people think. Sandusky speaks on national TV/Radio/Newspapers/Internet...No trial by his peers is left with an unbiased judgement for a trial. Case tossed out.

    November 15, 2011 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark C

      He's certainly brighter than you, though that's not saying much. No case ever gets "tossed out" because it's impossible to find a jury.

      November 15, 2011 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
  13. tcaros

    In Sandusky's rationilization horsing around means he's weiner accidently slips up some poor kid's butt.

    November 15, 2011 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
  14. tcaros

    I was watching hockey tonight and the Nashville Predators were playing. I thought that Sandusky should be their mascot.

    November 15, 2011 at 10:23 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Sharp

    When it comes down to testimony & all the victims line up & point the finger & tell what happened; What will this monster do then?

    November 15, 2011 at 10:23 pm | Report abuse |
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