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Penn State football coach Sandusky seeks new trial in child sex abuse case

Jerry Sandusky (C) leaves the Centre County Courthouse after his sentencing in his child sex abuse case in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania October
Jerry Sandusky (C) leaves the Centre County Courthouse after his sentencing in his child sex abuse case in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania October

By Joe McDonald

East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - A Pennsylvania appeals court was set to hear arguments on Tuesday for a new trial for Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State football coach serving at least 30 years in prison for sexually abusing boys for more than a decade.

Sandusky, 69, who is being held in solitary confinement, will not attend the hearing although members of his family are expected, said his attorney, Norris Gelman.

A three-judge Superior Court panel will hear oral arguments in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania from Gelman and prosecutors for and against granting him a new trial.

Sandusky was convicted in June 2012 on 45 counts of child sex abuse for molesting 10 boys over 15 years, some in the football team's showers on campus. His victims accused him of fondling and oral and anal abuse.

In arguments for a new trial, each side has 15 minutes to argue its case. A decision by the judges could take months.

Gelman told Reuters he will focus his argument on instructions given to the jury by trial Judge John Cleland and whether the judge failed to tell jurors about the victims' failure to make prompt reports to authorities.

Some of the abuse dated back years, and Sandusky's defense attorneys argued at trial that the victims were motivated by money and only stepped forward when there was an opportunity to sue Penn State for damages.

Pennsylvania State University has reached settlements or tentative agreements with more than two dozen claimants.

The school, a powerhouse in the world of college football, has approved spending $60 million for the payouts.

Late last month, Penn State reached a settlement as well with Sandusky's adopted son Matt, who is among the men who said they were sexually abused by him, a source said.

Sandusky's attorney said he also will argue prosecutors made improper comments about Sandusky's decision not to testify and that the defense was not given enough time to prepare its case.

Prosecutors at the trial in Centre County Court said the victims had reasons for not mentioning the abuse earlier, from shame to the fact they were young boys showered by gifts and that they feared Sandusky would be seen as more credible than his accusers.

The scandal shined a light on child sexual abuse and raised pointed questions about the motivation of people who knew about Sandusky's behavior but failed for years to report a top coach vital to Penn State's successful and lucrative football program.

Joe Paterno, the winningest coach in Division I college football history until he was stripped of more than 100 victories because of the scandal, lost his job at Penn State for failing to report Sandusky to authorities.

He died early last year at age of 85, about two months after he was fired.

(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Cynthia Osterman)

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