Whether or not it was wise for Jerry Sandusky to speak to Bob Costas on NBC's Rock Center is a question legal experts can debate until this case is done winding its way through the court system, many moons from now. But speak he did yesterday, for the first time since all hell broke loose in Happy Valley. Costas did a nice job with his exclusive, speaking over the phone with Sandusky, as well as in studio with Sandusky's lawyer, Joseph Amendola. So what did Sandusky say?
Early in the interview, Sandusky said that he is innocent of the charges against him. When asked if he is "completely innocent and falsely accused, in every aspect," Sandusky said that he's "horsed around with kids," showered with them after workouts, hugged them, and "touched their legs without intent of sexual contact." He denied, however, that he's had sexual contact with any of the boys.
Costas also grilled Sandusky about the alleged incident in a Penn State shower, in which Mike McQueary said he saw Sandusky raping a boy. Here's Sandusky's account of what happened: "Okay, we were showing 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 snapping a towel, and horseplay."
Sandusky's lawyer spoke about that incident as well, saying that they believe they found the boy in question — the state had yet to do so — and that they "have information that says that child says" the events didn't happen as McQueary described them.
The parts of the interview that are getting the most attention today are among the most uncomfortable. After replying "no" to the question of whether or not he is a pedophile, Sandusky was asked if he is sexually attracted to young boys. As has been pointed out in a couple of places today, it took him some seventeen seconds before he said that he isn't. His complete answer:
Am I sexually attracted to underage boys? Sexually attracted? You know, I enjoy young people. I, I love to be around them. I, I ... But no, I'm not sexually attracted to young boys.
And then there's the part where Costas asks him if feels that what's happened at Penn State and to Joe Paterno in recent days is his fault. Sandusky said he doesn't, but says he "obviously played a part in this." Costas then asks a follow-up: What is Sandusky willing to concede he's done that was wrong — that he wishes he had not done? Said Sandusky, in part: "I shouldn't have showered with those kids."
It's unlikely anything Sandusky said last night will change many minds about him. In the final question of the interview, Costas noted that "millions of Americans who didn't know Jerry Sandusky's name until a week ago now regard you not only as a criminal, but I say this I think in a considered way, but as some sort of monster." Translation: Sandusky may be innocent until proven guilty, but the court of public opinion has already reached its verdict. Responded Sandusky, "I don't know what I can say or what I could say that would make anybody feel any different now. I would just say that, if somehow, people could hang on until my attorney has a chance to fight for my innocence."
See the whole interview here: