As is already well known, Jerry Sandusky was arrested for child sex abuse charges. In Part 1 of this series, I shared my impressions as a criminal defense lawyer in response to the overwhelming belief that most people have concerning Jerry Sandusky’s guilt in this matter.
In this section, I will discuss how we, as people, draw such conclusions in one case, but not in another. I think it is an interesting subject and certainly is one of great importance to anyone involved in the criminal justice system.
Basically, a person will ask two fundamental questions before they make a decision. First, is the claim plausible? Second, can the claim be verified?
In between these two points lies a distance of leeway. The amount of leeway afforded will vary from instance to instance. A person’s tolerance for leeway will also vary depending on the nature of the claim and the magnitude of it is scope.
The more improbable a claim is, the less leeway afforded and the more verification required.
When it comes to Jerry Sandusky’s case, my experience as a criminal defense lawyer tells me he is facing a perfect storm of circumstantial evidence and most likely, direct victim testimony.
At the present time, the identities and the testimony of the alleged victims is not available. As such, America has based its verdict of guilt on circumstantial evidence.
But what circumstantial evidence have Americans plugged into their mental algorithms to conclude that Jerry Sandusky is guilty?
Lets break it down:
1) Jerry Sandusky is an old white guy.
When Americans conjure the stereotypical image of a pedophile, a crusty old man comes to mind. Plain and simple. We all know its true.
2) Jerry Sandusky is a football coach.
Maybe the years and years of Greco-Roman style tackling of young, muscular, sweaty, tights wearing men had no meaning. Perhaps it was all about the game. Thats right, sportsmanship. Skill. Dedication. Leadership.
And you’re right, I would be crazy to say that all football coaches are closet child molesters. Thats insane. Most really are genuine, good guys, doing something commendable for the kids.
But then again, are you ever really surprised when you hear one was arrested for molestation?
3) Jerry Sandusky Worked with At-Risk Children.
This one really resonates. As if football and the coach-adoration angle wasn’t enough, he also devoted much of his life to helping at-risk youths.
By itself this fact is innocuous. In fact, it shows commendable character. But nothing is worse than being accused of anally raping boys against their will when you are heavily involved in helping at-risk kids.
It makes people think you founded the organization not to help kids, but to give you access to vulnerable children for sex purposes.
The answer lies in how humans test information for veracity. When the same or a similar allegation is made by a large number of different people, the human mind finds a common thread.
Even when you excise out the risk of embellishment, the likelihood of lying, and out right conspiracy or character assassination, the bottom line is a lot of people are saying the same thing.
In this case, there are eight different boys saying that Jerry Sandusky molested them.
Bottom line is this, we humans find truth in numbers.
Which leads me to my next point… the allegations of child rape span across a 15 year period of time.
This tells us that we are not dealing with an isolated incident. In isolated incidents, humans suspect that things may not be as they seem, gestures can be misinterpreted, and maybe there was some external force at play, such as a conspiracy.
When you are vying for the position of head coach of a major football program, especially one like Penn State that is known for producing major linebackers – oh, and you happen to the head of the defensive program – you just might be someone else’s target.
Football programs are like organizational entities with their own drama, their own politics, and their own world of back stabbing, love making, and deal breaking.
Don’t kid yourself.
However, when you hear that it is not an isolated incident, but rather spans more time than a decade and a half, you have to believe that there is an underlying character flaw and that Jerry Sandusky really does love boys.
Multiple victims, multiple incidents, and many years all equate to truth in our mind’s algorithm.
Please click on the following link to read the next section: Part 3: Why Americans Think Jerry Sandusky is Guilty (Penn State Sex Abuse Scandal)