Two attorneys representing one of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky’s alleged sexual abuse victims have filed court papers seeking to block the use of the man’s real name when the criminal trial begins next week.
Harrisburg attorney Benjamin D. Andreozzi and Philadelphia lawyer Jeffrey P. Fritz, who represent the man known as “Victim #4” in the case, filed a motion for protective order for the use of a pseudonym May 29 at the Centre County Court of Common Pleas.
In their memorandum of law in support of their motion, the two attorneys wrote that the “extreme media attention coupled with the psychological impact of his victimization” leads Victim #4 to ask the trial judge to prevent the disclosure of his name in open court and assign a pseudonym for identification purposes.
State statute allows the use of a pseudonym in cases involving alleged sexual abuse of a minor, the lawyers wrote.
The victim was allegedly abused by Sandusky between the ages of 12 and 17, and the fact that he is now in adulthood does not “in any way change the social stigma, embarrassment and humiliation that would come with public disclosure of his identity in connection with childhood sexual assaults committed upon him,” the memorandum states.
Sandusky, the former defensive coordinator for the Penn State Nittany Lions, faces more than 50 counts of child sexual abuse.
His trial is expected to begin June 5 in the Centre County Common Pleas Court.
In their motion, Victim #4’s attorneys argue that child sex abuse inflicts “lifelong harm,” and that victims are routinely “psychologically disabled by the abuse and need to be protected from public embarrassment and shame even into adulthood.”
This revelation proves the need to shield their client’s true identity during trial, the attorneys wrote.
The attorneys specifically cite the enormous media attention the case has attracted since Sandusky was first indicted on the charges late last year.
“The magnitude of this case and the corresponding media attention cannot be overstated,” the memorandum states. “The case has been one of the most popular stories in publications across the country.
“The immediate impact of disclosing the identities of the victims in open court is obvious,” the memorandum continues. “The long term repercussions associated with the disclosure of the alleged victims’ identities are even more daunting.”
The memorandum makes reference to the steps Sandusky and his defense team have taken to cast some of the alleged victims in a bad light, such as having a private investigator follow the accusers and their friends and family members, “leading them to feel as if they are the ones who are on trial.”
The lawyers wrote that at this stage of the game, the only protection the alleged victims have been afforded from the “unrelenting attention and inevitable psychological devastation corresponding to their role in this case is the anonymity of their names.”
In support of their motion, the attorneys wrote that neither the commonwealth nor the defendant will be prejudiced by the use of a pseudonym.
“The Defendant’s right to confront his accusers will not be violated by protection of the alleged victim’s names,” the memorandum states. “The alleged victims will stand before the judge and jury, in front of the Defendant, raise their right hands, swear to tell the truth, give testimony, and be subjected to cross examination in open court. The Defendant’s ability to present his defense will in no way be compromised.”
There was no indication when Judge John M. Cleland would rule on the motion.