It's difficult to understand the reasoning behind Jerry Sandusky's attorney Joe Amendola to request his client be interviewed on national television, as a criminal trial looms with mounting evidence against the former Penn State defensive coordinator.
Producers for NBC's new newsmagazine program Rock Center with Brian Williams probably couldn't believe what they heard when minutes before his scheduled interview with Bob Costas, Amendola asked if the program would like to interview Sandusky by phone. Amendola agreed to allow Costas to ask direct questions about the allegations that Sandusky sexually abused eight boys over a 15-year span.
Costas, considered among the most respected journalists in broadcasting, is a particularly insightful interviewer, and allowed Sandusky ample opportunity to state his case. Costas has made the media rounds by stating how the Sandusky interview took place.
According to Costas, Amendola said he believed his client had been tried and convicted in the court of public opinion. Costas added Amendola believed that anything that could be placed on the other side of the ledger, anything that might potentially, at least [Amendola] hoped, 'humanize' his client would have to be an improvement over the atmosphere that was out there before his client went on the air.
That strategy didn't seem to work, as Sandusky and Amendola, as well as former head coach Joe Paterno, appear more even more scathed after the interview.
For Sandusky, he struggled to answer a very simple question.
COSTAS: Are you sexually attracted to young boys, to underage boys?
SANDUSKY: Am I sexually attracted to underage boys?
SANDUSKY: Sexually attracted, you know, I enjoy young people. I love to be around them. But no I'm not sexually attracted to young boys.
In an interview with radio host Michael Kay, Costas said Amendola didn't seem distraught, he didn't seem unhappy by the Sandusky's answers. Costas added that Amendola's plan in having Sandusky conduct the interview was not for damage control and a possible plea bargain, rather to establish Sandusky's innocence.
Amendola's decision to let Sandusky speak out, and his lack of acknowledgment that his client now perhaps seems more guilty than ever, helped thrust the attorney himself into an unflattering spotlight. The Daily, an online news publication that launched in February exclusively for Apple's iPad, reported on Centre County Courthouse documents that Amendola impregnated a 17-year-old in 1996 when he was 49 years old, and later married her.
When Costas asked Amendola if he would allow Sandusky to be alone with Amendola's own children, he responded, Absolutely. Amendola's now 32-year-old divorced wife, Mary, posted on her Facebook page: OMG did Joe just say that he would allow my kids to be alone with Jerry Sandusky? according to The Daily.
Prior to Amendola's admission that he would allow his children to be alone with Sandusky, the attorney provided some unique and rather shocking information.
AMENDONLA:...we anticipate we're going to have at least several of those kids come forward and say this never happened. 'This is me. This is the allegation. It never occurred.' In fact, one of the toughest allegations -- the [Mike] McQueary violations -- what McQueary said he saw, we have information that that child says that never happened. Now grown up... now the person's in his twenties.
COSTAS: Until now, we were told that that alleged victim could not be identified, you have iden--?
AMENDOLA: By the commonwealth.
COSTAS: You have identified?
AMENDOLA: We think we have.
COSTAS: So you found him, the commonwealth has not?
AMENDOLA: Interesting, isn't it?
It is, in fact, interesting. How Amendola was able to obtain such key information about that rape victim is curious. Penn State wide receivers coach McQueary's reputation, and the reputation of prominent Penn State University officials, hinged on what was witnessed by McQueary, and now Amendola claims that the victim denies it occurred.
Amendola's decision to let Sandusky speak has been considered questionable by legal experts. Prosecutors may use the interview against him in court, as he may have corroborated witness testimony.
The disclosures from the interview don't seem to paint a clear defense. Admitting to showering with boys probably won't help Sandusky's case, and claiming that McQueary made false sworn statements is also bizarre, as he is considered a highly credible witness.
It seems apparent that Sandusky, a tactical strategist by profession for 33 years, has almost willfully put himself in a difficult situation. He has an attorney with his own history of sexual deviance, he failed to provide reasonable responses to his role in showering with boys, and didn't sound convincing when asked about being sexually attracted to boys.
He admitted he hugged boys but referred to the allegedly criminal contact as horseplay. When Costas inquired about whether Sandusky felt falsely accused in every aspect, Sandusky gave another stumbling response.
Well I could say that, you know, I have done some of those things. I have horsed around with kids. I have showered after workouts. I have hugged them and I have touched their leg. Without intent of sexual contact. But - so if you look at it that way - there are things that wouldn't - you know, would be accurate, Sandusky said.
None of the possible public-relation gaffes that Sandusky and Amendola made should distract from the serious allegations against Sandusky. The crimes have long-term detrimental effects on the alleged victims. Sandusky faces a maximum of 460 years in prison if he is found guilty of all of the sexual abuse charges.
More allegations may come forward, as well. The New York Times reported that nearly 10 more people have come forward. according to police sources.
There is also the issue of what the Penn State officials knew about Sandusky behavior and actions, and how they handled it. When the subject of Paterno came up, Sandusky then provided more direct answers.
COSTAS: Did Joe Paterno at any time ever speak to you directly about your behavior?
COSTAS: He never asked you about what you might have done? He never asked you if you needed help? If you needed counseling?
SANDUSKY: No. No.
COSTAS: Never? Never expressed disapproval of any kind?
The fact that Sandusky stumbled through defense of his own transgressions, but was firm with his response about Paterno's role, probably does help salvage Paterno's now damaged reputation. Paterno, and other Penn State officials, have faced a great deal of criticism for their inaction surrounding Sandusky's behavior around boys in a university locker room.
Though Sandusky is in an obviously difficult personal situation, as a high-profile assistant coach he has been interviewed countless times, so he's certainly acquainted with the process. This isn't an individual who hasn't face tough questions before, though not of this variety.
When Costas pointed out that the allegations against Sandusky are severe there was another awkward moment.
It seems that if all of these accusations are false, you are the unluckiest and most persecuted man that any of us has ever heard about, Costas said to Sandusky.
After a long and perhaps somber pause, Sandusky responded: I don't know what you want me to say. I don't think that these have been the best days of my life.
It was finally a comment that everyone can see eye-to-eye on.