BELLEFONTE, Pa. — Jerry Sandusky has a personality disorder that might explain the "creepy" letters he sent to one of his accusers, a psychologist said Tuesday
Elliot Atkins told jurors that he diagnosed Sandusky with histrionic personality disorder after talking with the former Penn State assistant football coach for six hours.
People with the disorder often interact with people in inappropriately seductive ways and don't feel comfortable unless they're the center of attention, Atkins explained.
"Often these are people who did not have as much success in relationships — emotional or romantic — (and) relationships in life," he said, responding to questions from Sandusky's lawyer Joe Amendola.
According to the National Institutes of Health, histrionic personality disorder occurs more often in women than in men.
Sandusky's attorney is hoping to convince jurors that the disorder could explain his client's letters to the accuser known as Victim 4 and other interaction that prosecutors allege show his grooming of victims.
Sandusky is charged with 51 criminal counts related to 10 alleged victims over a 15-year span. He's accused of engaging in illegal sexual contact ranging from fondling to forced oral and anal sex.
Atkins remarks came after earlier testimony that saw Amendola suggesting that investigators shared details among accusers, planting the seeds of the alleged victims' evolving accounts of abuse.
The defense also called more witnesses who lauded the former Penn State assistant football coach's reputation as an upstanding citizen.
But Amendola had sharp questions for two state police investigators who interviewed the alleged victims.
Amendola questioned the investigators about what details they shared during those interviews, in particular with Victim 4.
Amendola asked retired Cpl. Joseph Leiter if investigators told interviewees about others who had stepped forward.
"In some of our interviews ... we did tell them," he said.
Asked why, Leiter said it was to let possible victims know they were not alone.
"Each of these accusers was very, very seriously injured, and very concerned, and we had told them — especially prior to going to the grand jury — that they wouldn't be alone, that there were others," Leiter said.
Leiter said that did not include sharing individual accusers' recollections of abuse, such as specific sex acts.
"We never told them what anyone else had ever told us," he said.
But Amendola later read Leiter portions of an interview transcript in which the investigator told the accuser that others had reported abuse that progressed to oral sex and rape.
Victim 4, now 28, testified last week that Sandusky sexually abused him in the locker-room showers and in hotels for five years while trying to ensure his silence with gifts and trips to bowl games.
On the stand, he admitted that he lied to police and his own lawyer about the alleged abuse, saying he had "denied it forever." But he testified calmly and firmly, saying Sandusky performed oral sex on him and sent him "creepy love letters."
The man's attorney, Ben Andreozzi, also was called to the stand and asked about a discussion he had with investigators during a break in an interview with his client.
On a difficult-to-hear recording of the discussion, Andreozzi and Leiter can be heard talking about the investigation while the accuser is out of the room.
Andreozzi acknowledged to jurors that a guilty verdict in Sandusky's trial could have an impact on his client if he files a civil lawsuit, but he told the court that hadn't been decided yet.
Andreozzi also denied coaching his client on what to say to investigators.
"He viewed Jerry as a father figure to him. It's been extremely difficult talking about this publicly," Andreozzi said.
The defense appeared to catch one of the investigators in a lie after recalling him to the stand.
Trooper Scott Rossman said that he hadn't spoken to Leiter about their testimony after he first left the stand Tuesday, but Leiter said they had talked about it.
Meanwhile, another witness told jurors she knew Victim 4 through her brother and that he had a reputation for "dishonesty and embellished stories." The woman, who said her brother was the alleged victim's best friend, is an Iraq war veteran who suffered a brain injury before she was discharged.
The defense also called former New York Jets linebacker Lance Mehl, who played for the Nittany Lions in the 1970s.
"We all looked up to him as a class act," Mehl said when Amendola asked him about Sandusky's reputation.
Earlier Tuesday, Amendola told reporters to "stay tuned" to find out if Sandusky would take the stand himself, comparing the case to a soap opera. Asked which soap opera, defense attorney Joe Amendola initially said "General Hospital," then "All My Children."
Prosecutors rested their case Monday after presenting 21 witnesses, including eight who said they had been assaulted by Sandusky. The identities of two other alleged victims are unknown to investigators.
Sandusky's arrest led the university trustees to fire Paterno as coach in November, saying his response to the 2001 report from McQueary showed a lack of leadership. Paterno died of cancer in January.