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. Mike

    Put this monster away so I can go to sleep tonight.

    November 16, 2011 at 2:00 am | Report abuse |
  2. Maria

    When Costas asked him if he was a child molester this guy took a long time to answer why? because he is guilty! if you ask the same question to someone else that is not guilty ,the answer will be immediate NO ,it will be not pause that long to answer ,he was thinking .....

    November 16, 2011 at 2:04 am | Report abuse |
    • m

      Ditto..my thoughts exactly.

      November 16, 2011 at 3:21 am | Report abuse |
  3. Ed

    And then Sandusky probably wanted to explain why he always seemed to have an erection in the shower, but his clever attorney must have said, "Hey, save something for when you're on the witness stand!"

    November 16, 2011 at 2:08 am | Report abuse |
  4. Chief K

    Lock him up and throw away the key.

    November 16, 2011 at 2:14 am | Report abuse |
    • ThePreacherTheTeacher

      He loved being around kids...In the tradition of ancient Greek culture.

      November 16, 2011 at 3:57 am | Report abuse |
  5. Kana

    There's a big problem here, the whole school admin. and the police dept. are all involved in this coverup and why no charges was done before. Police records are suppose to be public records, there working for the people and the collage are a public facility. NCCa needs to shutdowm penn state football program, And the state need to close the school, and do a formal investagation as why the collage and police dept. are holding but those records, WHAT A CORRUPT STATE. This is why this is the only sport no to have a playoff series, so they can make more money on the bowls and its all a cheat system.

    November 16, 2011 at 2:19 am | Report abuse |
    • m

      I so agree Kana with your every word.
      I am concerned about justice for the victims of this horrible abuse. I am also concerned about the students at Penn State.
      Penn State is digging themselves deeper in the mire and the mud by not releasing the records.
      Penn State needs to be closed down and investigated from top to bottom.Time to Clean House!!

      November 16, 2011 at 3:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      What are you babbling about? You are far too emotional and void of facts to be blogging. Go on, get out of here!

      November 16, 2011 at 5:30 am | Report abuse |
  6. JD Ebberly

    Lock Sandusky up in a Supermax prison and let him ROT. NO exercise time in the yard. Let him rot away in a concrete box and then die and go straight to Hell for Eternity.

    November 16, 2011 at 2:25 am | Report abuse |
  7. Marilyn

    What defense attorney would let their client go on National TV and say anything? Guess he just hung himself. This should save the State of Pennsylvania some money in a trial for this disgusting perv.

    November 16, 2011 at 2:27 am | Report abuse |
  8. bubba

    Thar aint a-nuthin wrong with he dun ceptin' hit aint his relativs, which is surprisin'. Ah dont ritely understand whut he's got agin his own kin, but so be it. Ah'm up here in the big house jest a-waiting on ole Jer Jer to git chere so we kin tawk. Ah thanks weer gonna be reel good freens. REEL good, huh huh ...huh huh.

    November 16, 2011 at 2:56 am | Report abuse |
    • James White

      Sorry, Bubba. Humour has a use in giving us all some levity in very dark times. Your attempt just reminds me how many monsters are in the world (even if they're incarcerated). Prison justice will have its' way in this case, there's no doubt about that. If it helps the victims of the monster or their families, then have at it, Hoss. If not, then it's just more pointless violence piled on top of acts so horrible we can't even manage them. Call me a wimp, but if we abandon the justice system and society allows convicted criminals perform"the will of the people, then we should all be armed and ready to live in the jungle human beings have clawed there way out of for the past 20,000 years.

      November 16, 2011 at 3:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      Ever hear of solitary confinement, Bubba?

      November 16, 2011 at 5:33 am | Report abuse |
  9. Bella

    Even if he was just showering with a kid, is he saying that should be okay? .. so sick !!!!

    November 16, 2011 at 3:20 am | Report abuse |
  10. It is sad

    Before this is all over the state may be impeaching the governor. Sounds like he had information as the Attorney General and let all this drag out for 3 years!?! Yes Mr Governor, we know investigations take long, but really... 3 yrs on a child abuse charge? I think a good investigation would have turned up previous complaints... I am also guessing that when running for Governor it would not have looked good to be the man who took down JoePa and Penn State.

    November 16, 2011 at 3:30 am | Report abuse |
  11. indepvot

    The comments by Sandusky and his dumb attorney, infuriated me and many others. The gall they had to try to minimize these horrendous crimes is an insult to every victim, every law respecting American. Sandusky needs to be hung by his nads along with his sleazy lawyer. Disgusting pigs.

    November 16, 2011 at 3:40 am | Report abuse |
  12. Skin yard

    Better watch out all of JoePa’s minions will riot in the streets. I mean what’s more important JoePa's legacy or the welfare of young children. I can't believe the idiots @ Penn State. Hang Sandusky, JoePa and all of the other people involved in this cover up including the judge who just released him. I will never step foot in that state since Football is more important then protecting children from a Monster. My only issue now is that we have to trust the corrupt legal system to make sure all involved get their due justice. It's well known if you have money to spend you can get away with anything. They should hold the trial for these jag offs in a neutral state because it's apparent the people in PA hold football over the welfare of children.

    November 16, 2011 at 3:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      I'd love to find out what state you live in. Generalizations such as yours have a nasty way of coming back right back at you.

      November 16, 2011 at 5:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Skin yard

      You must be one of JoePa’s Minions flipping vans over because his daddy was forced to quit coaching because football was more important than some
      Poor kids.

      It’s kind of funny that my “Generalization” has no less than 8 people backing it up and two of them are adults that witnessed the acts.
      Step out of your Penn State dream world and face reality.

      November 16, 2011 at 6:03 am | Report abuse |
  13. HURLCO

    Well isn't that special? Newsflash for Jerry and all pedophiles;
    Forced sodomy on a 10 year old boy does not come under the heading of "Horseplay". Wait until he's assigned a black, 275 lb. Leviathan, hung-like-a-racehorse bunkie after getting sentenced to the joint for the rest of his unnatural life. Sandusky is in so much denial, he doesn't have the sense to keep his deviant, inverted oral component shut. His lawyer must be a charter member of NAMBLA. As a Dad of two sons, I'm not spiritually developed enough to pray for this freak. The least this wimp could do is muster up any remaining testosterone left and either off himself or plead guilty. But no, he's punking out to the press. What a disgusting beeotch.

    November 16, 2011 at 3:57 am | Report abuse |
    • matsymom

      BRAVO!!!!!!!!!

      November 16, 2011 at 8:42 am | Report abuse |
  14. Steve

    Lawyers aren't that stupid. Something fishy is going on here. This has cover up written all over it. Out on bail for a 100 grand? This guy knows thing and people don't want him blabbing.

    November 16, 2011 at 4:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Skin yard

      He didn’t even have to put 10% down on that 100 grand like you or I would have too.
      It’s based on the contingency that he shows up for court. If he shows up all is good if he doesn’t he has to pay the 100 grand.

      That’s just BS. Goes to show you he holds a lot of power in that state. He has had everyone from the Police department, Board of Education @ Penn and now the judicial system looking out for him
      Since day 1.

      November 16, 2011 at 5:56 am | Report abuse |
  15. Hank

    He should just get it over with and blow his brains out already. I don't see how anyone could live with themselves after doing what he has done.It will never be ok and just fade away.

    November 16, 2011 at 5:22 am | Report abuse |
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