Tuesday, June 19, 2012



I haven’t followed the Jerry Sandusky trial closely for a variety of reasons. I focus mostly on financial, economic, and political issues. While I occasionally veer off course to discuss things like cars or the English language, I just about never discuss sports, which would be an obvious, though stretched, link to this case. Further, the whole affair saddens and disgusts me, not only as a father but also, to a far lesser extent, as an inveterate Big 10 fan and twice proud alum who hates to see the “family’s” name besmirched by this nearly most heinous of crimes. Finally, I prefer to leave discussion of this type of case to the tabloids, refusing to pretend that the broad public interest in this case arises from a concern for children rather than a lurid fascination with anything having to do with sex, seemingly the more strange and perverted the more attention grabbing.

That having been written, I felt compelled to comment on today’s reports in, among other places, the Wall Street Journal (page A2, “Sandusky Witnesses Defend Showers”), regarding the opening defense testimony.

I’m no lawyer, but I’ve always thought that, in a rather hopeless case, the best strategy for the defense is to destroy the credibility of the prosecution’s witnesses. But what if the defense’s witnesses destroy their own credibility?

Take the case of Richard Anderson, who played football with Mr. Sandusky in the ‘60s and coached with him in the ‘90s. Mr. Anderson apparently thinks there is nothing wrong with showering with young boys, according the Journal,

“because he has done so at the YMCA after workouts and ‘on occasion over the years” he was in a Penn State shower while Mr. Sandusky showered with boys.”

Further, Mr. Anderson replied to defense lawyer Joe Amendeola’s question of whether coaches were “in and out of the shower while Jerry was in there with kids,” with a “Correct.”

One hates to make light of such a situation, but if Mr. Anderson’s taking showers with boys at the YMCA is an illustration of what Mr. Sandusky and his defense team consider “normal,” I must have taken a wrong turn somewhere and ended up in the Bizarro World.

But maybe I’m wrong. We also had the testimony of Booker Brooks, a Penn State assistant coach until 1983, who defended Mr. Sandusky’s cross-generational approach to personal hygiene with fond memories of his own adolescence:

“I showered with adult men who were not relatives of mine all the time.”

I have to admit that it is impossible to stifle a laugh while reading that line. Perhaps it is my natural Irish-Catholic prudishness coming to the fore, but such behavior is just weird. I, for one, never showered with adult men when I was growing up in my apparently abnormal neighborhood on the south side of Chicago. And whether these men were relatives or non-relatives mattered not a whit to my propensity not to shower with them. I didn’t realize that, by taking showers alone, I was violating the standards of goodness and normalcy as defined by the Jerry Sandusky defense team.

Either I grew up in a world that was so Victorian and repressed that I showered alone in my formative years or Messrs. Anderson and Brooks are a really weird couple of guys. And I’m not so convinced of Mr. Amendeola’s stability, either; are we supposed to believe anything his witnesses say after they told us that showering with young boys is normal and acceptable behavior?

One supposes that the only consolation for Mr. Sandusky is that, where he is going, many of his mates will share his beliefs regarding the salubriousness of showering with one’s friends.


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