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Jerry Sandusky, formerly the assistant head football coach at Penn State, is on trial for molesting ten boys over the course of fifteen years.  I don't know why he chose to go to trial rather than accept a plea bargain.  When you've got ten victim/witnesses against you, all of whom must reveal grossly intimate details of something each of them must have wanted to keep out of sight, the idea that you can convince the jury that all of them are lying is asymptotic to zero.  My guess is that either no bargain was offered, or that it included a life sentence, making Sandusky feel like he had nothing to lose by trying.

His problem, like the problem for most defendants (only in his case to an even greater extent) is how sufficiently to muddle the truth so that the jury might be hoodwinked into an acquittal.  One story reports that his lawyer might be thinking of pushing "histrionic personality disorder:"  

Sandusky's defense attorneys are asking the court to let them present evidence that he has histrionic personality disorder.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, people with the disorder suffer from poor self-esteem and resort to dramatics to gain approval.

"They have an overwhelming desire to be noticed, and often behave dramatically or inappropriately to get attention," according to the clinic's website.

OK, well, that's nice, but last I looked, a "desire to be noticed and behaving inappropriately to get attention" could be said of a large chunk of the human race, virtually all of whom have managed to refrain from forcible fellatio and anal intercourse with little boys.

Like the usual ginned-up "syndrome" and fancy-sounding "disorder," this one is less likely to bring about an acquittal than to convince the jury that the defense thinks they're a bunch of fools.  

6 Comments

It's bad enough to claim a personality disorder in mitigation of punishment during sentencing, but to claim one negates guilt in the guilt phase of the trial is preposterous.

He has a "syndrome" all right. It's called pedophilia.

Kent,

Ouch!


Notablogger,

Double ouch! I really have no idea what the defense is thinking here. Isn't Sandusky's best hope to plead guilty and beg for something less than life?

I am opining based solely on anecdotal evidence, so take it for what it's worth, but one trait that sex offenders who prey on children seem to share is an ability to lie that is so pathological that they can even lie to themselves. After all, it's the only way they can live with themselves -- I mean, pretty much no one is proud of being a pedophile.

I think there is a large portion of Jerry Sandusky's conscious brain that actually believes he's a great guy who never meant to hurt anybody. In order to plead guilty, he would have to admit to everyone, including himself, that he is a despicable, depraved rapist who hurt vulnerable children who trusted him. Even though that's the truth, based on the evidence, there's no way he could bring himself to admit it.

I agree with Kent. And "histrionic personality disorder" is what many people these days would call an attention whore (pardon the language). The point being not whether it is a mental disorder of some sort, but rather that it is exceedingly common nowadays (as Bill points out).

So in accordance with the defense theory in this case, would every reality TV "star" have an excuse for abusing children? Charming.

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