Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sandusky's Stunning Interview with Bob Caostas

Former Pennsylvania State University coach Jerry Sandusky's nationally televised denial that he had sexually abused children was about the worst thing I have ever seen done under advise of counsel from a high profile defendant.

Many people I talked to about the interview said it was "a prosecutor's dream." Another pronounced the move "idiotic."

I fully understand the impulse to speak out on one's behalf publicly from working on the Dr. Conrad Murray case and watching him get torn to shreds publicly but impulse HAS to be tempered with reason.

The decision to expose Sandusky to a level of questioning that belongs in a courtroom setting when the attorney have absolutely no control over it was a simply stunningly bad decision.

Sandusky is accused of sexually assaulting eight young boys during a period of 15 years. Many of the assaults allegedly occurred on Penn State's main campus.

Sandusky's taped phone interview with NBC's Bob Costas on Monday night is now fair game in the legal case, defense experts say, and will almost surely make its way before a judge or jury.

What a jury or fact-finder will see is the video - not only what he said, but how he said it. The tone, inflection and pauses will be studied relentlessly.

In the Dr. Conrad Murray case, the legal team understood something had to come out from the doctor in his own defense, but it had to be done in a way that would not jeopardize his future defense in court. That is why the team arranged for Dr. Murray to make a videotaped statement and distribute it across You Tube. The statement was carefully screened by attorneys for inconsistencies and any possible problems down the road. By absolutely controlling not only the message but the mode of delivery of the message, the team was allowed the upper hand by presenting to the public the first videotaped images of the doctor talking about the case in a safe manner.

In Sandusky's case, when he denied the most serious charge - that he sodomized a 10-year-old boy in a shower - he acknowledged that he had "horsed around" with boys, hugged them, and showered with them. When asked whether he was sexually attracted to young boys, Sandusky repeated the question, paused, and then said he was not.

Typically, it's the defense lawyers or friends of the accused who step up to the cameras and microphones to try to blunt a prosecutor's case. Defense lawyers questioned Sandusky's decision to do that himself.

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