The defense in Jerry Sandusky's child sexual abuse trial is suggesting that a personality disorder explains some of the charges the former Penn State assistant football coach, but one expert says that may be a stretch.* * *
Sandusky's lawyers, who began presenting their defense Monday, plan to raise the disorder issue to suggest that his extensive correspondence with one of the alleged victims wasn't necessarily "grooming" boys to molest them but instead might be trying to "satisfy the needs of a psyche" with the disorder.
"The jury should not be misled into believing these statements and actions are likely grooming when they are just as likely or more likely histrionic in origin," wrote defense attorney Karl Rominger in the June 11 filing.
But Dr. Glen Gabbard, clinical professor of psychiatry at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, said histrionic personality disorder could in no way be seen as a reason or explanation for the abuse of children.
"That diagnosis, if he has it, would be completely irrelevant to anything having to do with criminal responsibility for acts of pedophilia," said Gabbard, an expert on personality disorders.
If I understand this correctly, the lawyers are not planning to use the "disorder" in the sense of diminishing criminal responsibility for the act. That would be complete garbage, as Gabbard says. They are claiming he didn't commit the act, and they are using the "disorder" to explain certain behavior that the jury might consider to be corroborating evidence. That is still a stretch. Of course, given the number of witnesses and the likelihood of a de facto life sentence upon conviction, stretches are probably all they have.
Meanwhile, back at the APA, histrionic personality disorder is being removed from the main text of the forthcoming edition of the "bible," the DSM-V, and relegated to the appendix of stuff for further study.