Will Penn State Jury Connections Hurt or Help Sandusky?

When the jury for the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse trial was announced, it was a bit of a surprise to learn that 10 of the 16 selected jurors have ties to Penn State. They include a former Penn State professor, a woman who has held season tickets for many years and a man who will complete his senior year there beginning in the fall.

Given the secrecy and protection within the school that accompanied this case and left young boys vulnerable for many years, it was initially somewhat unsettling to see so many PSU connections landing in the jury box. But that could ultimately hurt Sandusky rather than help him. 

In the wake of the scandal, many Penn State alum have rallied for causes to help sexual abuse victims. The formation of the Proud PSU for RAINN group in November launched a fund-raising effort that has collected more than $500,000 for the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN). Many connected to Penn State – both currently and through alumni ties – feel betrayed by Sandusky, and betrayed by all those who participated in concealing his actions. Many blame Sandusky for ending the career of respected coach Joe Paterno and sullying the school's good name.

Bruce Antkowiak, a law professor at St. Vincent College, put it in perspective for The Washington Post: "In one sense, you worry about, this guy was for many years of his life a hero of that community, an idol," he said. But now, as Sandusky stands accused of sexually abusing 10 boys over a 15-year span, "…there's also the consideration that … this guy betrayed so much of what gave this institution and this area so much of the character and innocence that we love that he has besmirched it in such a profound way."

The trial could begin as early as next week.




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