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Analysis: Prosecution presented strong case against Jerry Sandusky

Pat Little / Reuters

Jerry Sandusky arrives Thursday at the Centre County Courthouse for the fourth day of his child sex abuse trial in Bellefonte, Pa..


While the prosecution didn't rest Thursday, it is very clear that the bulk of the commonwealth's evidence against Jerry Sandusky has been presented. Given the surprisingly fast pace of the prosecution's case, the judge canceled Friday's proceedings, leaving the jury with some disturbing testimony to consider over the Father's Day weekend.

Wes OliverWes Oliver is a professor at Widener University who teaches criminal law and procedure. This fall he will join the faculty of the Duquesne University School of Law as a professor and director of the school's criminal justice program.

This trial has been difficult to sit through at times. The acts alleged are horrific, and the testimony took an obvious emotional toll on the jury.

Despite the very strong case against Sandusky, the defense had strong moments on cross-examination. It has skillfully pointed out inconsistencies in the witnesses' testimony and has raised substantial questions about why some grown adults would continue to have friendly relationships with the man they now say abused them.

Nevertheless, the question remains: Why would so many witnesses come forward with similar stories? As Bob Costas stated it in the TV interview the jurors heard: If these witnesses are all lying, Sandusky must be the unluckiest guy any of us has ever known.

Jurors have long weekend to consider graphic evidence against Sandusky

Their stories weren't identical. In fact, had they been, one would suspect collusion. But there was a small detail that ran through all but one of the accounts: All but one alleged victim described Sandusky's first having touched him on the knee or the thigh as they rode in Sandusky's car.

If a group of people were going to concoct a group lie, one would expect them to coordinate the big details, not the small one. They were all, except one, in unison in describing this as Sandusky's first uncomfortable touch. In the case of one alleged victim, the prosecution didn't bring out this fact on direct examination — we learned this unifying fact on cross-examination.

Full coverage of the Jerry Sandusky trial

Legal analysis by Wes Oliver

Almost any witness will be vulnerable to cross-examination that casts some doubt on his or her testimony, and Sandusky's alleged victims were no exception. But given the number of them, their consistency, the independent witnesses who saw Sandusky in the Penn State showers and the defendant's own words in the letters he wrote to one victim, the prosecution has presented a very strong case.

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