US ex-coach’s wife: Victims manipulated over money
NEW YORK (AP) — The wife of a former Penn State assistant football coach says she “definitely” believes her husband is innocent despite being convicted of sexually abusing 10 boys and that the victims’ financial gain was at play.
Jerry Sandusky, who was convicted in 2012, is serving a 30- to 60-year prison sentence for 45 counts of child sexual abuse. The scandal rocked one of the premier sports programs in the United States and ended the career of the late Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno, who transformed the once obscure university into a football power.
Dottie Sandusky said in an interview broadcast Wednesday on NBC’s “Today” show that “there was nothing that went on because I was here” in the couple’s small home in State College, Pennsylvania, where some of the victims reported being abused in the basement.
The Sandusky saga also brought down Penn State’s president and focused attention on the dominant role American football plays on campuses across the U.S. College sports’ governing body, the NCAA, levied unprecedented sanctions against the university’s football program.
Although one accuser said his muffled screams went unheard by her upstairs, Sandusky heard nothing “because he didn’t scream,” she said after giving interviewer Matt Lauer a tour of the house. “It’s not a dungeon,” she noted of the basement.
She denied any suggestion that she was a “weak spouse” who enabled her husband and said she believes his accusers had been manipulated.
“I think it was, they were manipulated, and they saw money,” she said. “Once lawyers came into the case, they said there was money.”
She said in the interview recorded Monday that she believed that her husband showered with children but “that’s the generation that Jerry grew up in.”
She insisted the inappropriate behavior went no further: “I definitely believe him. Because if I didn’t believe him, when I testified at trial, I could have not said what I said. I would have had to tell the truth.”
Jerry Sandusky insists he is innocent and has appealed his conviction to the state Supreme Court.
Dottie Sandusky said she visits her husband once a week in his southwestern Pennsylvania prison but is allowed no physical contact.
“We talk about what’s been going on with the family, we talk about things with the case, how things have been going for him,” she said. Confined to his cell for 23 hours a day, he reads, meditates, writes and has a television, “which is a lifesaver for him,” she said.
She began to cry while saying the case has been “really rough” on her family.
“Some of our grandchildren are old enough that they know what’s been going on, and they’ve been told what’s been going on,” she said. “They know who their pop is and what he was.”
Many friends have stood by the couple, but lawyers have told others to keep their distance, she said.