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Penn State accuser disputes defense's approach

By Mark Scolforo

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 29 2011 11:26 a.m. MST

FILE - In this Nov. 5, 2011 file photo provided by the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, former Penn State football defensive coordinator Gerald "Jerry" Sandusky, center, walks to the office of Centre County Magisterial District Judge Leslie A. Dutchcot while being escorted by Pennsylvania State Police and Attorney General's Office officials in State College, Pa. The criminal defense for Sandusky, expected in a State College courtroom Dec. 6 to face charges he sexually abused boys over many years, will have to rebut a 23-page grand jury report that portrayed him as man who preyed on vulnerable children he lured with gifts and the prestige of his connection with Penn State University.

Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General via Commonwealth Media Services, File, Associated Press

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HARRISBURG, Pa. — A newly hired lawyer for a high school student described by prosecutors as a sexual abuse victim of former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky said Tuesday that he has been distressed to hear Sandusky's attorney dispute the charges.

Slade McLaughlin said his client stands by the allegations and sees the strategy by defense attorney Joe Amendola as putting victims on trial instead of Sandusky.

The grand jury report, issued Nov. 5 when Sandusky was charged with 40 criminal counts, accused Sandusky of fondling and repeated instances of oral sex after they met about five years ago through The Second Mile, a charity for disadvantaged youths Sandusky founded.

"I can only say it was emotionally devastating," said McLaughlin, who also represents the boy's mother. "It was someone he trusted. It was someone he believed had his best interests at heart. What's even more distressing to him and his family is Sandusky's lawyer is out there saying Victim No. 1 is a liar; he's made all this up."

Amendola, who did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment Tuesday, said last week that Sandusky has maintained his innocence and that he has information leading him to conclude he may be innocent.

Sandusky is accused of sexually abusing eight boys over a period of 15 years and faces charges that include involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault and indecent assault.

"We're ready to refute all eight charges in the original presentment," Amendola has said. "We have evidence to refute all of those."

McLaughlin said Amendola's tactics reminded him of a defense lawyer in a rape case saying the woman "wanted it."

"The proof is going to come out strong and hard, and these people are going to eat their words," McLaughlin said.

He said Amendola's comments were not appropriate.

"I frankly think a lot of his comments have been incendiary," McLaughlin said. "I think they have been harmful and hurtful to a lot of the victims."

Sandusky's preliminary hearing is scheduled for Dec. 13 at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte. McLaughlin said he has been in talks with prosecutors about whether his client will testify.

The preliminary hearing for two Penn State administrators accused of failing to properly report suspected abuse and perjury — Gary Schultz and Tim Curley — was delayed this week until Dec. 16, in the Dauphin County Courthouse in Harrisburg.

McLaughlin said a lawsuit on behalf of his client is a foregone conclusion but will not begin until criminal proceedings are complete. He said potential targets include Sandusky, Penn State and The Second Mile.

In State College, student leaders, Penn State President Rodney Erickson and other administrators plan to appear at an event for students regarding the child sex-abuse scandal Wednesday in Heritage Hall. The university also is conducting smaller forums, run by its counseling and psychological services center, on Tuesday and Thursday, and next week.

Associated Press writer Genaro Armas in State College contributed to this report.

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