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Sandusky waives hearing, will fight charges

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Sandusky waives hearing, will fight charges

From Comcast SportsNet

BELLEFONTE, Pa. (AP)Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky opted against forcing his accusers to make their claims of child sex abuse in a packed courtroom Tuesday but then took his case to the courthouse steps as his lawyer assailed the credibility of the alleged victims and witnesses.

There will be no plea negotiations, defense lawyer Joseph Amendola said. This is a fight to the death.

Waiving such a preliminary hearing is not unusual but it was unexpected in this case: Amendola repeatedly had said his client was looking forward to facing his accusers. Afterward, he called the cancellation a tactical decision to prevent the men from reiterating the same claims they made to the grand jury.

Lawyers for the alleged victims said some were relieved they would not have to make their claims in public before a trial, but others said they had steeled themselves to face Sandusky and were left disappointed.

It would have been apparent from watching those boys and their demeanor that they were telling the truth, said Howard Janet, a lawyer for a boy whose mother contacted police in 1998 after her son allegedly showered with Sandusky.

Sandusky has denied the allegations, which led to the departures of longtime Penn State football coach Joe Paterno and the university president. He is charged with more than 50 counts that accuse him of sexually abusing 10 boys over the span of 12 years.

Amendola said he believed some of the young men may have trumped up their claims and that others may came forward in a bid to make money by suing Sandusky, Penn State and the charity Sandusky founded.

Were pursuing a financial motivation, Amendola said, Finances and money are great motivators.

Michael Boni, a lawyer representing an accuser known as Victim 1, said Amendola was reaching into his bag of tricks.

I can tell you that Victim No. 1 is credible. He was the first one to come forward, he said.

Sandusky told reporters as he left the courthouse that he would stay the course, to fight for four quarters and wait for the opportunity to present our side.

Many defendants waive preliminary hearings, during which prosecutors must show that they have probable cause to bring the case to trial. Prosecutors in this case were expected to meet that relatively low bar, in part because the case been through a grand jury.

Senior Deputy Attorney General E. Marc Costanzo said the move provides maximum protection to most importantly the victims in this case.

It avoids their having to testify for a second time, Costanzo said. They will of course testify at a trial in the case.

Costanzo also said there had been no discussions about a plea bargain.

Sandusky also will waive his next court appearance, an arraignment, that had been scheduled for Jan. 11, Amendola said. He remains under house arrest.

The accusers who were prepared to testify were split in their reactions to the hearing being canceled.

Boni said he was encouraged that the accusers do not have to relive the horrors they experience up on the witness stand by having to testify at the hearing and at trial.

Ben Andreozzi, a lawyer representing another accuser, read a statement from his client, who called it the most difficult time of his life.

I cant believe they put us through this until the last second, the statement read. I still will stand my ground, testify and speak the truth.

Ken Suggs, another attorney for one of the accusers, called Sandusky a coward for not facing the young men.

Witnesses have contended before the grand jury that Sandusky committed a range of sexual offenses against boys as young as 10, assaulting them in hotel swimming pools, the basement of his home in State College and in the locker room showers at Penn State, where the 67-year-old former assistant football coach once built a national reputation as a defensive mastermind.

Sandusky has told NBC and The New York Times that his relationship to the boys who said he abused them was like that of an extended family. Sandusky characterized his experiences with the children as precious times and said the physical aspect of the relationships just happened that way and didnt involve abuse.

Amendola said Sandusky was always emotional and physicala loving guy, an affectionate guywho never did anything illegal. The lawyer likened Sanduskys behavior to his own Italian family in which everybody hugged and kissed each other.

Sandusky retired from Penn State in 1999, a year after the first known abuse allegation reached police when a mother told investigators Sandusky had showered with her son during a visit to the Penn State football facilities. Accusations surfaced again in 2002, when graduate assistant Mike McQueary reported another alleged incident of abuse to Paterno and other university officials.

The grand jury probe began only in 2009, after a teen complained that Sandusky, then a volunteer coach at his high school, had abused him.

Sandusky first groomed him with gifts and trips in 2006 and 2007, then sexually assaulted him more than 20 times in 2008 through early 2009, the teen told the grand jury.

Amendola on Tuesday attacked McQueary by citing an anonymously sourced newspaper report that claimed the former graduate assistant changed his story when speaking to a family friend. The defense attorney said McQueary would derail the prosecution and other accusers also would be questioned.

McQueary was always the centerpiece of the prosecutions case, he said.

No one answered the door at Mike McQuearys home and his father, John, told The Associated Press that he wouldnt respond to Amendolas comments.

Sandusky founded The Second Mile, an organization to help struggling children, in 1977, and built it into a major charitable organization, headquartered in State College with offices in other parts of Pennsylvania.

Two university officials have been charged with perjury and failure to report suspected abuseathletic director Tim Curley and former university vice president Gary Schultz. Their preliminary hearing is scheduled for Friday in Harrisburg.

Curley has been placed on leave and Schultz has returned to retirement in the wake of their arrests. The scandal brought down university president Graham Spanier and longtime coach Paterno, who was fired last month.

Meanwhile, officials at Juniata College said Tuesday that Sandusky insinuated himself into the schools football program last year, despite being denied an official position because he failed a background check.

Sandusky had sought a volunteer coaching position at the Division III school in May 2010, more than a year after a high school where he volunteered began investigating his contact with a student there.

Sandusky attended Juniata practices and games despite the athletic directors directives to the then-head coach that Sandusky couldnt associate with the team, a school spokesman said.

The spokesman, John Wall, said the school has since taken steps to ensure better communication between coaches and administrators.

Charles Leno, Jr. on Harry Hiestand: 'He's getting us better'

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USA Today

Charles Leno, Jr. on Harry Hiestand: 'He's getting us better'

Chicago Bears left tackle Charle Leno, Jr. has outplayed expectations after joining the Bears as a seventh-round pick in 2014. General manager Ryan Pace rewarded Leno for his play with a four-year, $38 million extension last offseason, committing to the former Boise State product as the Bears blindside protector for the immediate future.

Leno joined his teammates at the team's annual Bears Care Gala on Saturday and said new offensive line coach Harry Hiestand is going to make the group better.

"We love Harry, let's just get that out of the way," Leno told 670 the Score's Mark Grote. "Harry is a great coach. I saw what he did for guys that he coached in college and the guys that were before us here in Chicago. He's getting us better."

Hiestand's efforts at Notre Dame produced four first-round picks: Zack Martin, Ronnie Stanley, Quenton Nelson and Mike McGlinchey. He brings a no-nonsense coaching style back to Chicago, where he last served under Lovie Smith from 2005-2009. 

STANKEVITZ: In Harry Hiestand, Matt Nagy hits a home run on his first swing at Bears' coaching staff

Leno enjoyed the best season of his career in 2017. His 80.4 grade from Pro Football Focus was the best of all Bears linemen and his highest overall mark over the last four years. He finished 15th among all tackles graded by PFF last season.

Regardless, Leno still has to impress his new coach just like every other offensive lineman on the roster. The Bears haven't added any competition for Leno, but his fate as the team's long-term answer at left tackle could be decided by Hiestand.

Matt Nagy is winning over his players by being himself

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USA Today Sports Images

Matt Nagy is winning over his players by being himself

Despite losing 34 of his 48 games as the Bears’ head coach, John Fox’s players generally liked him and were disappointed to see him fired on New Year’s Day. That’s not to say they were blindsided by it — losing leads to people losing their jobs, even if the culture at Halas Hall had changed for the better following the disastrous end of the Marc Trestman-Phil Emery era. 

It was with that backdrop that Matt Nagy was offered and accepted the position of Bears head coach a week after Fox’s firing. Four and a half months later, Nagy has seemingly made a strong first impression on his new team, with one reason standing out among many: He’s genuine in who he is and what he does.

“I would say Nagy can be stern, and he can be playful also,” cornerback Prince Amukamara said. “I think when you’re a first-year coach, you want to win (over) your guys, and you want to be firm, and he’s doing that. You can’t really tell he’s a rookie coach or whatever. I feel like he was born for this, and he’s doing a great job.”

Granted, no player is going to publicly blast their new boss — especially not before he’s even coached a game yet. But veteran players also aren’t oblivious to who can and cannot work out as a head coach, and there haven’t been any “damning with faint praise” types of comments that were more common five years ago at the beginning of the Trestman era.

Will this win Nagy any games come September? No. But consider this sort of like team chemistry: It won't win a team anything, but if a team doesn't have it, it can be costly. 

“He’s a cool coach, man,” linebacker Danny Trevathan — who played for Fox in both Denver and Chicago — said. “He’s always giving us little details and smiling but we know he’s a hard worker just like we are. He’s up there working just like we are. He’s always putting us in the right position and he takes care of us. On the back end, where I come from, you take care of coaches like that. You go out and make plays for those coaches.”

From an observational standpoint, Nagy comes across as genuinely excited not just to be a head coach, but the head coach of the Bears. Players respect that approach — he's not coming in acting like a hired gun, and he's shown through these OTAs and practices that he cares about them, even if they haven't spent much time together yet. And he's also not strutting into Halas Hall every day with an over-inflated ego based on his promotion. That resonates, too. 

“I like the way he came in,” Trevathan said. “He came in humble but he was hungry. He came anxious, moving around in the meetings. I like that. That gets me fired up. I feel like we’ve got a good leader up here in the head coach.”