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."

Post by:
Filed under: Crime • Football • Jerry Sandusky • Penn State • Sports
soundoff (374 Responses)
  1. Joe D.

    By allowing their client to go on national TV and tell his story, is it possible that Sandusky's legal team is attempting to establish grounds for a mistrial? Could they, at trial, claim that there is no way to get a fair judgement because everyone in the country has seen him speak and has already (justifiably) decided he is guilty? I sure hope not. Would much rather hear about his first night alone behind bars after a conviction.

    November 15, 2011 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • McCain-in-4

      Good to see that the Michael Jackson defense is alive and well.

      November 15, 2011 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • anna

      I was thinking the same thing..............

      November 15, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • CmonNow11

      In short: No!

      November 15, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  2. dave meccariello

    this guys sounds like every other pedophile, including michael jackson... this concept that a grown man should be "sleeping next to, showering with, best friends with a child" is just perverted and a crime and they should pay dearly.

    November 15, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Meaniebird

      Michael Jacskon was proven to have been innocent of the charges. His accusers admitted that they only made the allegations for monetary reasons.

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

    The State of PA: 1 Pervert Sandusky: 0
    Justice already leading by 1...thanks Jerry!

    November 15, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  4. lalachi

    As a lawyer, I cannot even begin to guess why his lawyer let Sandusky do an interview and answer those questions. Public admissions of guilt can be used against you in court! Unless they are going to try to get a mistrial for ineffective assistance of counsel or something. Hopefully the judge would see through it if that is the case and limit the admission of this interview if it was done on the advice of Sandusky's lawyer so as not to taint the case.

    November 15, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Loraine

      If he has the same woman judge who let him free on $100,000 unsecured bail, then he might actually get a mis-trial. She "volunteered" for his charity, Second Mile.

      November 16, 2011 at 12:21 am | Report abuse |
  5. JOE

    A mistrial? Let's face it, there won't be any need for a trial in the first place if they were to just cut this sob's weiner off.

    November 15, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  6. mfx3

    Seems to be the go-to excuse for pedos now...child at heart. It's still unacceptable for a "child" to molest another child. Plus your heart is as old and wrinkled as the rest of you. Sick.

    November 15, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Tima Kooko

    Jackson and Sandusky. PERVERTS!

    November 15, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Loraine

      You see how Jackson finally got his "punishment." God works in mysterious ways.

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

      AGAIN. Jackson accusers said themselves that their parents made them make the accusations to get money. So don't inculde him with your perverts.

      November 16, 2011 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
  8. verysimple

    why are we interviewing him? i understand the process of innocent until guilty. it is clear he is guilty. they fired the the top people at the school who tried to ignore it and hoped it would just away, they fired the coach who if it were his kids or grandkids would have had him beat to a pulp and never found again...if for one moment the powers that be would have thought he maybe innocent...none of that would have taken place and this wouldn't even be an issue. This one sick man changed the entire history and future of Penn State forever. He is guilty and GOD will be taking care of him soon enough...who cares what the courts do.

    November 15, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • God?

      God? Really.. another sky fairy believer that things everything works out according to sky daddy. Why did sky dad allow it in the first place? Sit and be quite.

      November 15, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ahem

      I believe the cliche meme you're looking for is "Sky Wizard", not "Sky Fairy", and he should be quite what?

      Whether you call "it" God, god, fate, karma, or simply a coincidence based on lifestyle lived, inner demons, and enemies made; I would say there is a pretty solid correlation for bad things happening to bad people. I dont think assuming that the universe has an unpleasant end in store for Mr. Sandusky is altogether illogical... why quibble about the source of it?

      November 15, 2011 at 11:36 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Lisa

    So, Mr. Sandusky's attorney, "Joe Amendola", who by the way allegedly impregnated a 16 yr old girl when he was in his late forties, is saying that some of the people are coming forward because they have heard about the lawsuit against Penn State. What person in their right mind would allege that they were molested by this monster just for money? All I can say is that IF this would be the case then they are as sick as Mr. Sandusky's and Mr. Amendola, but I think it is HIGHLY unlikely that this would be the case. Both Mr. Sandusky and obviously now Mr. Amendola will have to answer to one person when their life ends, hope they like the feeling of burning, and "GOD" please take care of their victims.

    November 15, 2011 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • RLong

      Sounds like God will be very busy!

      November 15, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  10. JohnRJ08

    The judge who let Sandusky out on unsecured $100,000 bail should be thrown off the bench for not recusing herself. She knows Sandusky and volunteered for his organization.

    November 15, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • SABC

      Amen about the ignorant female judge!!! What law school did she go to anyway?

      Cannot believe that nothing has yet happened to revisit the bail charges. What is taking so long?

      Sandusky is such a narcissist that he believes his own lies. Wonder what his wife thinks? She clearly knows more about this whole situation, given that she called one of the victims before he testified in front of the grand jury.

      Sad day for abused children everywhere. God bless them.

      November 15, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  11. JOE

    What a modeled citizen! He founded a program to help troubled BOYS so he could impose his will on these helpless victims. What they call those three rivers in PA again? They should throw him overboard so he can get a cleansing.

    November 15, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Loraine

      And was this a ring for wealthy pedophile Penn State graduates? Shut the charity down!

      November 16, 2011 at 12:24 am | Report abuse |
  12. markiejoe

    After hearing the Conrad Murray interview with the police that sunk him, and now this Sandusky interview on television, I don't know why ANY attorney would EVER allow his client who has been charged with a crime to speak either in public or to authorities before his trial. It's just foolish in the extreme. Perhaps the lawyers who endorse or allow these sorts of interviews should be charged with malpractice.

    November 15, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  13. crusthoven

    Go check out my blog on this case, thank you!
    http://crusthoven.wordpress.com/2011/11/11/the-ultimate-loss-of-innocence/

    November 15, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Costas4Prez

    I commend Bob Costas on the way he conducted the interview with Sandusky and remained as neutral as any human possibly could after hearing the outrageous allegations. He conducted the interview with class yet still asked hard-hitting questions that were on everyone's mind. I would not have wanted to see that interview conducted by anyone else..hats off the Bob Costas and the professionalism he exhibited during that arduous and eye-opening interview.

    November 15, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Agree

      I agree with you. Bob Costas handled the interview very well.

      November 15, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Robert Vukovic

    The press could have prevented mush of this tragedy had the sports reporters not been part of the problem. When Sandusky quit Penn State at age 55 with no apparent reason when he should have replaced Paterno, the sports reporters should have been digging far deep to find out why. I guess they were more interested in being part of the "team".

    November 15, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17