Accused child molester Jerry Sandusky took to the airwaves on Monday night to assert his innocence on NBC's Rock Center with Brian Williams, but seemingly failed to convince anyone of his defense.
Sandusky spoke with Bob Costas on the phone in his first public statement since being charged with 40 counts of child sex abuse on Nov. 5. The stunning story of systematic child abuse and the subsequent cover-up at Penn State led to the dismissals of football coach Joe Paterno and school president Graham Spanier, in what is billed as one of the most shocking scandals in sports history.
Sandusky told Costas that he was innocent of the most serious charges levied against him, but did admit to showering with young boys.
I have horsed around with kids, a soft-spoken Sandusky told Costas. I have showered after workouts. I have hugged them. And I have touched their leg without intent of sexual contact.
That stunning admittance was only the beginning of missteps for Sandusky. Costas pushed and prodded Sandusky over all of the major details and allegations in the case, including whether he had forced a young boy to perform oral sex on him in 2000 or raped a young boy in 2002.
Sandusky denied both accounts, but offered little reasoning as to why Mike McQueary or a former Penn State janitor would make up the claims. He insisted on telling Costas that he would have to ask them why they made those claims against him.
But even worse than Sandusky's weak denial of sexual abuse against children was his stunningly poor response to a question on whether he was sexually attracted to young children. Costas posed the question after drilling Sandusky for most of the interview and the accused posed one of the worst denials ever seen.
Sandusky bizarrely paused for a second or two after hearing the question before dancing around the question.
Sexually attracted. You know, no. I enjoy young people. I love to be around them. I love to be around them... um. I... I, but no, I'm not sexually attracted to young boys.
According to Zach Klein of WBS-TV, it took Sandusky 16.3 seconds to tell Costas he wasn't sexually attracted to young children. Although still innocent until proven guilty, Sandusky's inability to answer right away that he wasn't sexually attracted to children doomed him in the court of public opinion.
It should have been one of the easiest questions that Sandusky faced all night from Costas, but instead could be the final nail in his coffin. For anyone not sexually attracted to children, that question should warrant an immediate, strong denial.
But clearly the question was a bit more complicated for the former Penn State defensive coordinator. The chilling response was eerily reminiscent to the types of remarks that deceased singer Michael Jackson used to make about children.
Jackson was never found guilty of any wrongdoing in his involvement with children, but reportedly paid millions in settlement money. Whether he was right or wrong, Jackson appeared much more interested in spending time with young children than with persons his own age.
Most relevant though, Jackson -- just like Sandusky -- was completely unaware why sleeping in the same bed with children might be considered wrong by many. Sandusky still doesn't seem to understand that preying on young children and forcing them to take showers with him is wrong on all accounts.
He offered a half-hearted apology at the end of the interview when he said he shouldn't have showered with those kids, but it's impossible for any reasonable person to believe him.
Sandusky called upon viewers at the end of the interview to let his lawyer try to prove his innocence at, but it's already too late.
He blew any chance he had at a fair trial with his horrible answers and lack of awareness in his interview with Costas. No jury in America is going to acquit Sandusky if they saw Monday night's interview or if he puts forth another performance like that in a courtroom.
Even with the best defense possible, it will be impossible for anyone to forget that long pause.