It was no doubt one of the more puzzling legal decisions in recent memory. There he was, an accused pedophile who has largely already been tried and convicted in the court of public opinion, going on primetime TV and awkwardly pleading his case to millions of disgusted viewers.
And yet that’s precisely what former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky did on Monday night, in an explicitly detailed interview with NBC’s Bob Costas.
It doesn’t take a psychologist to notice the red flags that popped up all over the place every time Sandusky answered one of Costas’ admirably direct questions.
Here is just a bit of it, via The Philadelphia Inquirer:
Costas: "Mr. Sandusky, there’s a 40-count indictment. The Grand Jury report contains specific detail. There are multiple accusers, multiple eyewitnesses to various aspects of the abuse. A reasonable person says, ‘Where there’s this much smoke, there must be plenty of fire.’ What do you say?"
Sandusky: "I say that I am innocent of those charges."
Costas: "Innocent? Completely innocent and falsely accused in every aspect?"
Sandusky: "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. I have hugged them and I have touched their leg without intent of sexual contact. So if you look at it that way, there are things that would be accurate."
Costas: "Are you denying that you had any inappropriate sexual contact with any of these underage boys?"
Sandusky: "Yes I am."
Costas: "Never touched their genitals? Never engaged in oral sex?"
Costas: "What about Mike McQueary, the grad assistant, who in 2002 walked into the shower where he says in specific detail that you were forcibly raping a boy who appeared to be 10- or 11-years old? That his hands were up against the shower wall and he heard rhythmic slap, slap, slapping sounds and he described that as a rape?"
Sandusky: "I would say that that’s false."
Costas: "What would be his motive to lie?"
Sandusky: "You’d have to ask him that."
Costas: "What did happen in the shower the night that Mike McQueary happened upon you and the young boy?"
Sandusky: "OK, we were showering and horsing around. And he actually turned all the showers on and was actually sliding across the floor and we were, as I recall, possibly like snapping a towel and horseplay."
Horseplay, of course, has become the key word in these proceedings. Sandusky, for his part, has consistently maintained that he had “played around” with the boys he is accused of molesting. He says there was nothing overtly sexual about his behavior.
And yet, in what was without a doubt the most troubling/uncomfortable/disgusting portion of the interview, Sandusky appeared to accidentally give himself away without noticing it. When Costas asked him point blank if he was attracted sexually to young boys, Sandusky paused for what felt like an eternity before answering. In reality, it was probably something like 20 seconds – but it was a very telling 20 seconds.
Here was his response:
“Am I sexually attracted to underage boys? Sexually attracted, you know, I enjoy young people. I love to be around them. But no, I’m not sexually attracted to young boys.”
The painstakingly slow response coupled with what Sandusky eventually said probably sealed the man’s fate.