As the sun rose over the small town of Bellefonte this morning, all eyes (and cameras) were focused on the Centre County Courthouse. News helicopters patrolled the pre-dawn skies and the courthouse, decorated for the holidays, was fully lit. This is where Jerry Sandusky will today face some of his accusers for the first time since his arrest on child sex charges last month.
Hundreds of journalists are present to cover what is normally a mundane court procedure. In many cases, in fact, preliminary hearings are waived altogether. In addition to the national and local press, some members of the public will be present in the courtroom today. More than 1300 people applied for a precious few open seats set aside for the public. Some of those lottery winners were at the courthouse before dawn.
Sandusky faces more than 50 counts of child sexual abuse against at least 10 teen-aged boys over a decade and a half. The ensuing scandal led to the firing of legendary Head Coach Joe Paterno and Penn State University President Graham Spanier. Sandusky, the former revered Penn State defensive coach, maintains his innocence. The purpose of today’s hearing is for a judge to determine if there is enough evidence for the case against Sandusky to go to trial.