Stunning new development in Sandusky trial

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Stunning new development in Sandusky trial

From Comcast SportsNet
BELLEFONTE, Pa. (AP) -- As jurors deliberated for more than eight hours on charges Jerry Sandusky sexually abused 10 boys over a 15-year period, new accusations of abuse were leveled against the former Penn State assistant coach by a pair of new accusers, including his adopted son. Just a few hours into deliberations, Matt Sandusky -- one of Sandusky's six adopted children -- came forward for the first time to say in a statement that his father had abused him. The statement didn't detail the abuse allegation. Meanwhile, Travis Weaver, a man suing Jerry Sandusky, told NBC's "Rock Center with Brian Williams" that Sandusky abused him more than 100 times over four years starting in 1992, when he was 10. Weaver, 30, was named as John Doe in the lawsuit filed in Philadelphia in November. Sequestered during deliberations, the jury was under orders from Judge John Cleland to ponder only the case placed in their hands Thursday afternoon after hearing starkly different portrayals of the case's facts during closing remarks. Deliberations were scheduled to resume at 9 a.m. Friday. Prosecutors have called the 68-year-old Sandusky "a serial, predatory pedophile" whose charity for at-risk youth, The Second Mile, was his source of likely victims who would be dazzled by gifts, grateful for his attention and -- perhaps most importantly -- unlikely to speak up. His arrest in November ignited a scandal at Penn State that led to the dismissals of beloved Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno and the university's president. "He molested and abused and hurt these children horribly," Senior Deputy Attorney General Joseph McGettigan III told the jury in closing statements Thursday. "He knows he did it and you know he did it. "Find him guilty of everything." The defense portrayed Sandusky as the hapless victim of a conspiracy to convict him of heinous crimes. They explain the 48 charges against him as the result of an investigatory team out for blood and accusers who willingly played along in hopes of securing a big payday. "They went after him, and I submit to you they were going to get him hell or high water, even if they had to coach witnesses," defense attorney Joe Amendola said in his animated and impassioned closing remarks. The elder Sandusky, who faces life in prison if convicted of the allegations, smiled and chuckled to himself as prosecutors wrapped up closing remarks. His wife, Dottie, leaned forward in her seat with a concerned look, resting her chin in her hands. Some of the eight accusers who testified described showering with the longtime assistant; others spoke of lengthy relationships featuring lavish gifts and out-of-state trips. One testified he felt at times like Sandusky's son, at others his "girlfriend." A second accuser -- a foster child at the time authorities say he was abused -- said Sandusky threatened he would never see his biological family again if he told anyone he was forced to perform sex acts but later took it back and claimed to love him. One accuser testified to receiving what he called "creepy love letters" from Sandusky. "I know that I have made my share of mistakes," read one handwritten note. "However, I hope that I will be able to say that I cared. There has been love in my heart." The defense said the longwinded letters were simply the manifestation of a personality disorder characterized by excessive emotionality and attention seeking. Two people who prosecutors say were sexually abused by Sandusky haven't been identified. The charges related to them come through other witnesses, including Mike McQueary, a former assistant coach who said he saw Sandusky having anal sex with a boy in a football facility shower. It was McQueary's testimony that touched off the massive scandal that rocked Penn State and forced a re-examination of the role of college administrators in reporting abuse allegations. After more than eight hours of deliberations Thursday night, the jury returned briefly to the courtroom to ask Cleland if they could rehear testimony from McQueary and Dr. Jonathan Dranov, a friend of the McQueary family who testified that McQueary gave him a different account of what he saw. Cleland told the jurors that McQueary's testimony was about two hours in length and Dranov's was about 20 minutes long and suggested they revisit the McQueary testimony Friday. Sandusky has denied the allegations, but did not testify in his own defense. Jurors are aware, however, of the denials he gave "Rock Center" just after his arrest. In it, Sandusky seemed to stumble at times and struggled to give direct answers to questions about his conduct. Asked if he was sexually attracted to boys, Sandusky told NBC's Bob Costas: "Sexually attracted, you know, I, I enjoy young people. I, I love to be around them. ... No, I'm not sexually attracted to young boys." McGettigan seized on that in closing arguments, saying: "I would think that the automatic response, if someone asks you if you're a criminal, a pedophile, a child molester, or anything along those lines, would be: You're crazy. No. Are you nuts?'" Prosecutors said Sandusky used gifts and the allure of Penn State's vaunted football program to attract and abuse vulnerable boys who came from troubled homes, often ones without a father figure in the house. As during his opening statements, McGettigan during his closing arguments put up smiling pictures of eight accusers when they were children; all testified at trial that Sandusky molested them. Standing behind Sandusky, McGettigan implored the jury for a conviction. "What you should do is come out and say to the defendant that he molested and abused and give them back their souls," McGettigan told jurors. "I give them to you. Acknowledge and give them justice." Amendola argued that Sandusky was targeted by investigators who coached accusers into making false claims about a generous man whose charity gave them much-needed love. "So out of the blue (after) all these years, when Jerry Sandusky is in his mid-50s, he decides to become a pedophile? Does that make sense to anybody?" Amendola asked rhetorically. Closing arguments came after seven days of testimony, some of it explicitly describing abuse suffered at the hands of Sandusky, including touching in showers, fondling and in some cases forced oral or anal sex. The jury, which includes nine people with ties to Penn State, had already begun deliberating when Matt Sandusky's attorneys issued a statement alleging that Sandusky abused one of his six adopted children. "During the trial, Matt Sandusky contacted us and requested our advice and assistance in arranging a meeting with prosecutors to disclose for the first time in this case that he is a victim of Jerry Sandusky's abuse," Andrew Shubin and Justine Andronici said in the statement. "At Matt's request, we immediately arranged a meeting between him and the prosecutors and investigators. "This has been an extremely painful experience for Matt and he has asked us to convey his request that the media respect his privacy. There will be no further comment." Karl Rominger, one of Jerry Sandusky's lawyers, declined to comment. Matt Sandusky went to live with Sandusky and his wife as a foster child and was adopted by them as an adult. Shortly after Jerry Sandusky's arrest, Matt Sandusky's ex-wife went to court to keep her former father-in-law away from their three young children. Jill Jones successfully obtained a restraining order forbidding the children from sleeping over at their grandparents' home. Around the same time, details emerged that Matt Sandusky had attempted suicide just four months after first going to live with the couple in 1995. He had come into the home through The Second Mile. Shortly after the suicide attempt, Sandusky's probation officer wrote, "The probation department has some serious concerns about the juvenile's safety and his current progress in placement with the Sandusky family," according to court records supplied to The Associated Press by his birth mother, Debra Long. Despite those concerns, probation and child welfare officials recommended continued placement with the Sandusky family, and the judge overseeing his case agreed. During testimony last week, an accuser known as Victim 4 said Matt Sandusky was living at the Sandusky home at the time he stayed there overnight and testified that Jerry Sandusky came into the shower with the two boys and "started pumping his hand full of soap." Matt Sandusky shut off the shower and left, appearing nervous, the witness said.

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Caps players acknowledge there is a mental block holding them back

Caps players acknowledge there is a mental block holding them back

Barry Trotz does not think the Capitals’ history of playoff struggles has created a mental hurdle for the team to overcome.

“I think they’re all past that now,” Trotz said to reporters at the team’s breakdown day. “I think it’s so overworked by [the media] and everybody else that it’s actually becoming a joke to the guys.”

Well, the Caps weren’t laughing after their Game 7 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

In some ways, Trotz is correct. Losing to Jaroslav Halak in 2010 is not why Washington lost to Pittsburgh this year. Giving up a 3-1 series lead to the New York Rangers in 2015 is not why the Caps were shutout in Game 7 by the Penguins.

RELATED: Backstrom scores decisive shootout goal to win Worlds

But there does seem to be a mental hurdle the team has not been able to overcome and the players feel it.

“I just think mentally we have to just get over it and stop crumbling in certain situations,” John Carlson said.

“I think that a lot of it's mental,” Matt Niskanen said. “It's pretty clear that we could play really well in the regular season. It's either a mental thing or how we're built or how we play the game or something. We can't play well enough to advance as is.”

Even a player like Kevin Shattenkirk, who does not share the team’s history and was new to the Caps as a trade deadline acquisition talked about the cloud that seems to hang over the organization.

“You can feel it,” Shattenkirk said. “Of course you can feel it. It’s everywhere surrounding this team. It’s media. It’s the fans. It’s the players.”

Even before the players spoke, given how the Penguins series played out, it was clear the Caps were struggling with the mental pressure of the playoffs.

Washington lost its first two games against the Penguins, their archrivals and the defending Stanley Cup champions. Facing a must-win situation in Game 4 to avoid a 3-1 series deficit and with no Sidney Crosby, the Caps laid an egg and lost 3-2 in a game in which they never led.

Things changed when Washington went down 3-1. At that point, everyone assumed they were going to lose. With no pressure on them, the Caps looked like a completely different team winning Game 5 and blowing the Penguins out in Game 6. Suddenly with the series back within their grasp in Game 7, with all the pressure back on their shoulders, Washington collapsed again and failed to even score in a 2-0 shutout loss.

“I think once we got down 1-0, you almost felt it,” T.J. Oshie said of Game 7. “The building kind of got quiet, we kind of got quiet, and we didn't find a way to regroup and respond in time to win the game.”

Even Trotz, who was adamant this team’s history is not what is holding the Caps back, acknowledged that the Penguins clearly have a “mental edge.”

“They just believe that they can beat the Washington Capitals so that's the barrier, that's their advantage right now just because they've done it,” Trotz said. “… When everything's on the line, they believe they're going to get maybe that break where a team like us who haven't broke through, maybe we don't believe we're going to get that break.”

But here’s the problem: If the past has created a mental block, how can you overcome that? That’s the issue this team is now grappling with as it tries to determine what direction to go in and how much change is needed to finally get over that mental hurdle.

“There's really nothing we can do to change the past unless we do it in the future,” Carlson said. “I think maybe we've got to get over the fact that we haven't had that much success and that's all we talk about.”

“We can't play well enough to advance as is,” Niskanen said. “Something's got to change. I don't know what it is, but as is we didn't play well enough. That's the way it is.”

MORE CAPITALS: A bitter end to a better year

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Redskins 2017 OTAs to-do list: It's time to find a nose tackle

Redskins 2017 OTAs to-do list: It's time to find a nose tackle

Free agency is done. The draft is history. Rookie minicamp is in the rearview and the 90-man offseason roster has been filled out. Now comes the difficult part for Jay Gruden and his staff: putting it all together. With OTAs set to begin on Tuesday, Redskins Insiders JP Finlay and Rich Tandler will examine top priorities on Gruden’s to-do list as he prepares the team for training camp in Richmond later this summer.

Up today …

Nose tackle

Finlay: There's a lot to do on the Redskins defensive line, and it starts in the middle. Expect free agent addition Stacy McGee to have a big opportunity to take over the nose tackle job. McGee ranked as a +5.5 run defender last season as rated by Pro Football Focus, and at 6-foot-3 and 308 lbs., he has the size to man the middle. McGee has plenty of talent, health has been his hiccup. He has only played all 16 games in one of his four seasons, and in 2016, he played only nine games.

Beyond McGee, the Redskins have some lottery tickets. Practice squad players A.J. Francis and Joey Mbu both have the size to play nose, but neither have the experience. Could Francis or Mbu emerge for significant snaps with the Washington defense? Sure, but it would be unexpected. 

A bigger lottery ticket remains. Phil Taylor, a former first-round pick in 2012, has shown serious talent at the nose tackle position. At 6-foot-3 and 337 lbs., Taylor certainly has the size for the spot. At the same time, Taylor hasn't played an NFL game since 2014, losing both 2015 and 2016 to injury. Counting on Taylor would be short-sighted, but if he can remain healthy, there could be big value.

According to Jay Gruden, the most important piece of the nose tackle puzzle will come from new defensive line coach Jim Tomsula. Gruden said he expects Tomsula to "make" a nose tackle and improve the Redskins D-line. It's a tall order, but Tomsula has an impressive track record working in the trenches. 

Tandler: The organization’s refusal to get a legitimate nose tackle either in free agency or in the draft will lead to them again spend the spring and summer trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

That’s what they did last year with Ziggy Hood. He took a lot of snaps at nose tackle and he simply wasn’t a fit for the job. It wasn’t his fault that the Redskins allowed a league-worst 5.0 yards per rushing attempt on first down; he’s an end and he was much more effective there.

Matt Ioannidis, a 2016 fifth-round pick, also took some snaps at nose, with similar results. At 6-3, 308, he just doesn’t have the size to be effective.

The worst part of it here is that they really can’t get too far in identifying the 2017 nose tackle. In the spring with no pads and no contact allowed they really can’t do much besides work on technique and learn assignments. Tomsula’s effort to “make” a nose tackle won’t really get going until they get to Richmond in late August.

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