BELLEFONTE, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - Jury selection will begin on Tuesday in the child sex abuse trial of former Pennsylvania State University coach Jerry Sandusky, a case that shook the school and its football program and focused attention on sexual predation.
Sandusky, a retired assistant coach, faces 52 counts of molesting 10 boys over a 15-year period. Prosecutors allege Sandusky, 68, met the boys through a charity he founded and some of the assaults occurred at Penn State facilities.
The explosive accusations in November 2011 forced the firing of university President Graham Spanier and of Joe Paterno, college football’s winningest coach.
The grand jury charges marked a watershed in awareness of child sexual abuse since Sandusky seemed to be an unlikely predator as a children’s champion and well-respected former coach.
As the Sandusky shockwave spread, sex abuse hotlines and lawyers saw an upsurge in calls and emails.
Jury selection begins on Tuesday in Centre County Court of Common Pleas in Bellefonte, about 10 miles (16 km) northeast of State College, site of Penn State’s main campus. The trial will start on June 11 at the earliest.
Outside the courthouse Tuesday morning, about two dozen television trucks were lined up in a light drizzle as potential jurors began to gather. Proceedings are scheduled to begin before 9 a.m. EDT.
Area residents said they were hoping the trial would help put the Sandusky scandal behind them.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejected a last-ditch appeal for a delay by the defence on Monday. Sandusky’s attorney Joe Amendola has argued he needs more time to go through evidence.
Prosecutors allege Sandusky had physical contact with the boys, known in court documents as Victims 1 to 10, that ranged from tickling and a “soap battle” in Penn State showers to oral and anal sex.
If convicted on all counts, Sandusky could be sentenced to more than 500 years in prison. He is under house arrest with a $250,000 bail.
Sandusky has already laid out a potential defence, saying in an NBC television interview in November that he engaged in horseplay with alleged victims but stopped short of sexual intercourse or penetration.
Reporting By Ian Simpson; editing by Dan Burns