HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky’s status as a free man could change if additional accusers surface and police file new charges, as his lawyer fears.
It’s possible that the ex-coach, who is accused of sexual abuse of eight boys over 15 years, could then find himself with such a high bail he would not be able to pay it, criminal defense lawyers said Tuesday.
Prosecutors “don’t have to start all over,” said Lemoyne defense attorney Bill Costopoulos. “The additional counts would result in another arrest, another bail piece, another preliminary hearing date being set.”
Sandusky was initially released on $100,000 bail unsecured, meaning he didn’t have to post any collateral to be freed.
Sandusky’s lawyer, Joe Amendola, told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Tuesday he was worried there may soon be new criminal allegations against his client.
“My concern is, if they bring new charges based upon new people coming forward, that bail’s going to be set and he’s going to wind up in jail,” said Amendola, who has not returned multiple phone messages from The Associated Press seeking comment.
The district judge who set bail when Sandusky was arrested Nov. 5, Leslie Dutchcot of State College, was replaced with a senior district judge from western Pennsylvania after her ties to Sandusky’s charity surfaced. The court order said the change was designed to avoid any appearance of impropriety.
The new judge, Robert E. Scott, would be making decisions about bail in the context of public outrage over the allegations, which include charges that Sandusky found victims among boys being helped by The Second Mile charity.
“The more charges, the more serious it becomes, and of course I’ve heard public outcry that his bail is unsecured and it’s too low,” said Tunkhannock defense attorney Gerald Grimaud. “Any new judge or district magistrate is not tone deaf. I’m sure they’re reading things in the news media and watching things on TV like everybody else.”
Until the preliminary hearing, which was pushed back by a week on Tuesday to Dec. 13, prosecutors can seek to have bail modified by the district judge, said Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin. After that hearing, bail changes would have to be pursued by a county court petition, he said.
Martin said criminal complaints can also be amended prior to a preliminary hearing, but afterward the defendant would have to be re-arrested, and then the prosecution and defense would argue over whether to consolidate the two sets of charges for trial.
A spokesman for the attorney general’s office did not return messages seeking comment.
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