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. JJ

    Sandusky will get what's coming to him. He knows it. We know it. Bubba knows it. He's waiting for him. 🙂

    November 15, 2011 at 9:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • PedoState

      while incarcerated, he will be known as Jerry "PowerBottom Screamer" Sandusky. i hope he gets pipe laid up to his lungs in jail.

      November 15, 2011 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Wally

    Herman Cain Jerry Sandusky......anybody see a pattern emerging?

    November 15, 2011 at 9:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • JEB

      What pattern? Oh, you must be next?

      November 15, 2011 at 9:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • PedoState

      No.

      November 15, 2011 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Slim_Sammy

      Yes. The last letters. n, n, y, y. Cool pattern dude.

      November 15, 2011 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Troy

    Really? When someone is accused of a crime they are not allowed to retort the claim? Seems the public has already tried the case. I think it is time we get some mobs together and start burning people at the stake.

    November 15, 2011 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hawkeye1010

      You picked a nice cause to champion there, Troy.

      November 15, 2011 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sillyscared

      Like it or not Troy is right and thank god for that. He may very well be a monster but untill proven so in the court of law he gets a fair shake and then we can throw the switch or gavel.

      November 15, 2011 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • MeMo

      Yea, and OJ, casey Anthony and all those that slip through our fail proof justice system are innocent. No reason why grown men should put hand on legs or sleep with kids....Sandusky and Michael Jackson have(had) severe chemical imbalances in their head that makes there actions "legitimate".....I mean, these men have conceded to this crap....nuf said...pitiful human beings

      November 15, 2011 at 9:45 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Denise

    Can someone please explain why this man is out on bail, how does the judge who granted him bail was his friend. Where is the justice for these children.

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

      Get a life and let the courts do their job. Or should we just throw them in jail on a hunch because you read it in the news. We all are granted a chance at bail under the law before trail ect. Now go back and watch some more Nancy disgraceful.

      November 15, 2011 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • jayman419

      The DA asked for a more expensive bail, the surrender of his passport, and an ankle monitoring device. Those were all rejected by a judge who worked as legal counsel to Sandusky's charity. The AG is investigating the potential conflict of interest.

      November 15, 2011 at 9:53 pm | Report abuse |
  5. linton

    Can't wait for your out come in the court of law , what a sick an horrible beast you you are , may god bless an give these kids the courage to come forth an put you where you belong? JAIL

    November 15, 2011 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jimbo

    Good grief. Stop obsessing on it. Makes me wonder if what hits so many men so hard about this is that it's a football coach. Kind of like an accidental Brokeback Mountain... Stuff you felt at one time in the lcoker room but couldn't understand is all rushing back to haunt you?

    November 15, 2011 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
  7. watash60

    this is the result of LIBERALS giving in to all the gay demands

    November 15, 2011 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Corvus1

      ... you make no sense, pal.

      November 15, 2011 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • augustghost

      Ahh the most IGNORANT statement of the day

      November 15, 2011 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
  8. lukeNsee

    If ANYONE found out that at coach was taking a "shower" with a player, that should have sent off alarms.! I find this
    disgraceful and disrespectful to take advantage of players who have innocent take on college sports... Shameful.

    November 15, 2011 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • jayman419

      It wasn't college players. Sandusky retired from Penn State in 1999. He was given permission by school officials to use Penn State facilities with his charity work involving disadvantaged young boys.

      In 1998, the DA declined to press charges. In 2002, Penn State covered up allegations. In 2008, Central Mountain High School reported him to the police. A gag order was issued to the grand jury investigating the matter. They used subpoenas, sword testimony, and other evidence in their decision to charge Sandusky with 40 counts of child abuse.

      November 15, 2011 at 9:57 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jenn

    There are just some situations that scream "guilty" before a trial is given. We're reasonable, thinking people here. While we have to give this man a trial, anyone who would think for a moment that this man even COULD be innocent is delusional.

    November 15, 2011 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
  10. banasy©

    @watash60:
    I am going to go ahead and treat your comment as a joke, because surely you realize the pedophilia a) has nothing to do with being gay, and b) has nothing to do with politics.

    November 15, 2011 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Albany

    Power bottom? I thought he top only? McQueary saw him topping a boy remember?

    November 15, 2011 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Justice at all?

    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. So easy a caveman could do it.

    November 15, 2011 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • jayman419

      Anthony's acquittal did not result because of difficulties finding a jury for her. Prosecutors tried for murder one when they did not have evidence to back it up. However, there are eyewitnesses to what Sandusky did, beyond the victims themselves who are willing to testify, beyond his own admissions to inappropriate behavior. This will be a very easy case for prosecutors.

      November 15, 2011 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Huckle55

    I listened to Sandusky explaining his showers with young kids and i swear just the way he was explaining it just gave me the "creeps". It is so obvious this man has mega problems. My wish is that he goes to jail exactly what he deserves and in jail he will not last a week, Just the way it should be, So very sickening!!!

    November 15, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
  14. augustghost

    he will kill himself

    November 15, 2011 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
  15. banasy©

    @Cooler Head:
    I remember this case very well.
    The difference is that there was a 28-year-old eyewitness to this case.

    @Ken:
    Perhaps you should read up a bit, since you have admitted that you know nothing about this case.
    Read the Grand Jury transcript, especially victim#2.
    If that doesn't change the way of your thinking, you are stone-cold blooded.
    That transcript alone will convict this nasty old man.

    November 15, 2011 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
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