Jerry Sandusky

Gene J. Puskar

BELLEFONTE, Pa. - Jerry Sandusky emerged from prison Thursday to attend a hearing 200 miles away.

His lawyers argued that he deserves a new trial on child-molestation charges because they didn't have enough time to prepare for the first one.

The former Penn State assistant coach, 68, played no active role in the proceedings.

At the hearing in Centre County court in Bellefonte, Sandusky's lawyers alleged flaws in the trial, including that they were swamped by 12,000 pages of documents, that Judge John Cleland should have instructed jurors about the years it took for victims to report he had abused them, and that hearsay evidence was allowed improperly.

But prosecutors countered by showing most of the documents and records were not relevant to the trial. They also got lead defense attorney Joe Amendola to acknowledge that he did not find any he would have used when he reviewed them after the trial.

"Where's the harm?" the judge asked Sandusky defense lawyer Norris Gelman. "That's where I'm hung up on this one."

Cleland did not indicate when he might rule. If Sandusky does not get a new trial - he is also asking to have charges thrown out entirely - he can then appeal to Superior Court, and has indicated he will.

Sandusky was convicted in June on 45 counts of child sexual abuse over several years and is serving 30 to 60 years in prison. He has maintained his innocence, but his arrest tarnished Penn State's football program and led to the firing of longtime coach Joe Paterno, who died nearly a year ago.

Gelman noted that some of the victims waited more than a decade to disclose their abuse.

"This is a long, long time not to make some kind of report, ... and it goes to their credibility," he said.

Prosecutor Frank Fina told Cleland that the issue of "failure to report" by the victims was a major theme during the trial. It was brought up during both parties' opening and closing statements and during cross-examination of the eight victims who testified, he said.

Amendola's performance at trial and his questioning of witnesses are evidence that a fair trial took place, though the case moved from arrest to verdict in about eight months, Fina said.