Today in a move that no one saw coming, Jerry Sandusky and his attorney chose to waive the preliminary hearing in the case of the Commonwealth vs Jerry Sandusky on behalf of the now ten victims who have come forward with allegations of horrific sexual violence. Often times we do see defendant’s wave their preliminary hearings, this is typically done in writing by the attorney to the courts and it is usually very uneventful. Additionally the victims then are not required to endure grueling hours of testimony preparation and they are not required to take a day off work and show up in court. That sadly was not the case for these victims today.
What Sandusky and his attorney have done over the course of these past weeks is nothing short of public bullying of these victims. Each having done their own set of national media interviews where they both have challenged the credibility of the victims statements and had both stated on numerous occasions how much they looked forward to cross-examining the victims. So was it all a tactic? A ploy in the hopes the victims would get scared and decide not to show up? I believe so.
The best part was…it didn’t work. It only further deepened the resolve of these amazingly brave young men to stand their ground and speak their truth. The defense plan back fired and today when Sandusky and his attorney walked into court they were informed that there were 11 people prepared to testify to the abuse witnessed and endured.
No wonder they waived. They know they are in trouble.
But what about the victims. Imagine the roller coaster these individuals have been placed on over the past years since this investigation began. They have been forced already to recount horrific details of the abuse to their attorneys, both civil and prosecutors, and to a grand jury. But not once yet have they had the opportunity to face Sandusky, the monster in their lives, and tell their truth. Instead, they have had to endure seeing his face on the cover of every magazine, newspaper and TV news and entertainment show. They have had to worry that every time they leave their home they could run into him, as he was until a week ago out free on bail with no restrictions, they have to worry that the media will chase them and expose their identifies. In fact, for one victim who was all but totally exposed by the media, he had to leave his high school as he was being bullied, harassed and threatened horribly.
And they cannot speak out publicly, for if they do, each and every word they speak will be ripped to shreds in the court of public opinion. If they say one word that is different than their grand jury testimony, their credibility will be attacked, as we have already seen with the star witness in this case.
Yet today, every one of them was ready to take the stand and face their abuser, they were ready for their day in court but at the last minute, Sandusky had the chance to re-victimize them one more time by taking that chance away from them. Rightfully, some are angry, frustrated, annoyed, upset. They had to go home and now must wait again.
Victims have few opportunities in the criminal justice system to be heard. Their testimony is the key opportunity to be heard but they do not have a say at all in how the case proceeds. Otherwise, they hurry up and wait, prepare and wait, and wait.
I do hope and pray the resolve of each and every victim is just as strong as it was today. That they know their truth will be told and at the end of this trail…justice will prevail.
They will have their day in court, their voices will be heard even if Sandusky take a plea, the victims will have an opportunity to state on the record how they have been affected, abused, terrorized and victimized by their abuser.
I implore the media to allow the victims peace over the holidays. To let them move through the next weeks free from observation and intrusion so they may try and enjoy the holiday season with their families and friends.