Monday, September 24, 2012

Jerry Sandusky and Ted Rollins: Both Coach and CEO Reportedly Brought Child Abuse Into the Home

Jerry Sandusky

The most searing images from the child sexual abuse case of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky involved acts that took place in university locker room facilities.

But a new report states that Sandusky's adopted son was prepared to testify that the coach had sexually abused him in the home. That reminds us of Ted Rollins, the CEO of Campus Crest Communities who was convicted in the mid 1990s for assaulting his stepson and investigated on a complaint of child sexual abuse involving the same child.

No substantive actions were taken against Ted Rollins after the child sexual abuse complaint was filed, much as an investigation against Sandusky in the 1990s resulted in no sanctions. But the Rollins story--plus the most recent news about Sandusky--drives home what appears to be a general truth about such cases: The home is by far the most likely place for abuse to happen.

In fact, the threat that Sandusky's adopted son might testify about abuse in the home probably was the defining factor in the most watched criminal case of 2012. Trial transcripts show the threat prompted Jerry Sandusky to not testify in his own defense. From a report at

Jerry Sandusky reversed course and decided not to take the witness stand after his adopted son came forward and told prosecutors the former Penn State assistant football coach had abused him, documents show. 
Trial transcripts posted online Friday offer a glimpse into Sandusky's decision to remain silent during his child sex-abuse trial. 
Matt Sandusky, whom the defense had planned to call as a witness, abruptly switched sides late in the trial, approaching prosecutors and offering to testify that he had suffered abuse at the hands of his father, the transcript shows.

Is it possible that Jerry Sandusky would have been acquitted if he had chosen to testify? It's hard to say, but it appears the threat that his son would testify about abuse in the home cinched a conviction:

Prosecutors planned to call Matt as a rebuttal witness if Jerry Sandusky testified in his own defense, the transcript shows. They later backed off, but wouldn't agree to a defense request to refrain from asking Sandusky about his son's claims on cross examination. 
"Mr. Sandusky had always wanted to testify on his own behalf. He always wanted to tell people his side to the allegations in this case," defense lawyer Joe Amendola said during a private conference in judge's chambers. "However, that potential evidence, whether true or not, was so devastating" that Sandusky felt he could not run the risk of testifying and subjecting himself to questions about Matt, he continued.

As for Ted Rollins, we know he was convicted for severely beating his stepson in 1995--and that event took place in the home. We also know that two years earlier, Rollins had been investigated for the possible child sexual abuse of the same child--and that apparently involved events in the home.

Ted Rollins
Why did authorities take no substantive action against Rollins at the time? It's hard to understand, given that we now know a maid found more than 100 towels, soiled with feces and other debris, in a closet at the family home. And this powerful evidence pointing to anal sex was found at about the same time the child sexual abuse allegations surfaced.

Perhaps the most powerful lesson from the Sandusky and Rollins cases is this: In the 1990s, authorities and society in general tended to act cautiously when allegations of abuse were brought against men in powerful positions. But some two decades later, we now seem inclined to take these matters with a heightened sense of alarm.

For all the stomach-churning qualities about testimony showing Jerry Sandusky abused boys in Penn State showers, we also know this: Abuse is much more likely to take place in the home than in a public place--and that's one reason it's often difficult for victims to ever achieve justice.


Robby Scott Hill said...

Roger: I've always enjoyed the way you compare and contrast your investigation to a story which is currently receiving national media attention. It forces the reader to stop and say, "Hey, Roger isn't just some guy with an axe to grind. The person(s) who are the subject of a Legal Schnauzer investigation are possibly in violation of societal norms and could be engaging in deviant behavior."

legalschnauzer said...

Thanks, Rob. Here is one point that jumps out at me: Jerry Sandusky almost certainly would never have been brought to justice if he had restricted his actions to the home. Pretty much all of the evidence against him came because he was arrogant enough to practice his "craft" in public places, around other people. In that regard, I suspect, the Sandusky case is unusual. The child sexual abuser most often uses the home as his base of operations.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your report, LS. I don't read the sports pages much and managed to miss this one.

Spasmoda said...

I figured the Sandusky case was a slam dunk conviction.

Hmmm, maybe I was wrong about that one.

Big Mike said...

This makes me wish Sandusky's son had testified at the trial. What in the heck was going on in that home and where was Mrs. Sandusky?

Anonymous said...

Does anyone seriously think Jerry Sandusky ever was going to testify at trial?

Amendola has been saying that for weeks now, and I would be amazed if anyone believes him.

Sharon said...

I agree with Anon at 10:38. No way Sandusky was taking that stand.

Anonymous said...

I don't know about that. Didn't one of his lawyers okay his calling in a TV sports show?

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 12:05--

Good point. Yes, Sandusky did an interview with Bob Costas, and it didn't go so well. In fact, I think it might have been used against him in court. The lawyer, Amendola, must have approved of that.

Some legal experts think Amendola's performance was less than stellar in this case. My take is that he had pretty much an impossible task of trying to get an acquittal for Sandusky, especially with the McQueary testimony.

Anonymous said...

If he thinks Sandusky would be okay to spend time with his own kids who knows what else might seem like a good idea.
Afterward, Sandusky’s lawyer, Joseph Amendola, sat down with Costas and said he was totally convinced of his client’s innocence. That he would “absolutely” let his own children spend time with the former football coach. That he wouldn’t have taken the case were he unconvinced of Sandusky’s innocence.

Curious George said...

Are investors asleep at the switch about Mr. Rollins? You'd think they would want to know about this stuff in his background. Do they care, even a little?