How Sandusky Hurt His Legal Defense in His NBC Interview

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While Jerry Sandusky, the former assistant Penn State football coach arrested for sexually abusing young boys, did his public image no favors with his interview on NBC's Rock Center with Brian Williams, his admissions to Bob Costas could end up hurting him the most in court. Legal experts who've spoken to the media are questioning Sandusky's decision to be interviewed by Costas. Let's run down some of the legal ramifications they've identified.

He's admitted to a crime already in the interview Sandusky said in the interview, "Well, I could say that, you know, I have done some of those things. I have horsed around with kids, I have showered after workouts." His  lawyer, Joe Amendola, said that "some of the allegations, such as putting a hand on a boy's knee, do not constitute criminal conduct," according to the AP, and that showering with a boy also isn't a crime on Today. But CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin vehemently disagrees. "It's such a classic fact pattern for him to admit that he showered with these children and horsed around and confessed to touching them," she says on CNN. "In my mind, that's already misdemeanor child sex abuse. So I disagree when the attorney says nothing criminal happened here. That, in and of itself, is criminal."

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He's given up his Fifth Amendment rights Normally, though, one can't incriminate oneself as a protection of the Fifth Amendment, which says someone can't "be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself." But attorney Tom Harvey says that the Costas interview last night will be an exception. "He admitted he showered with little boys, he admitted he touched little boys' legs, he hugged little boys, he's saying people just made all this other stuff up," he tells the New York Daily News. "He's just given up his Fifth Amendment rights not to incriminate himself." He continues: "If he tries to say they are hearsay, the prosecutors would say it is an exception -- he made the statements against interests."

He's tainting the jury pool  "He's obviously not in touch with reality," Marci Hamilton, a law professor specializing in child sex abuse, tells USAToday. "If I was his attorney, I would never allow him to do this. It's just foolishness. It's a very bad idea ... Even when a child is just touched in passing by an adult, it can affect them. Clearly, he has no sympathy and empathy for the victims." Jurors in Sandusky's case, who haven't been picked yet, aren't likely to be very forgiving for someone they find unsympathetic. And like pundits are today, they also might latch onto how Sandusky stuttered and paused when asked if he was sexually attracted to underage boys. "Am I sexually attracted to underage boys? [Pause] Sexually attracted? No," he told Costas. "You know, I enjoy young people. I love to be around them, but no, I’m not sexually attracted to young boys."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.