Jerry Sandusky was rearrested on Wednesday, December 7th, on new allegations of child sex abuse. Two new victims stepped forward since Sandusky’s initial arrest on November 5th. Sandusky was out of custody on bond when the Attorney General went to his home on Wednesday to rearrest him. Sandusky’s attorney had previously told prosecutors in the case that if there were any new charges, to notify him, and Sandusky would turn himself in. Rather than following this request, prosecutors decided to publicly arrest Sandusky. Sandusky was again released on bail and is now also required to wear an ankle monitor and remain in his home.
It is not uncommon for an indictment to change or for new charges to be added after someone is arrested. Sometimes, an unannounced arrest is warranted, particularly where the defendant is a flight risk, has ties outside of the United States, or has demonstrated a prior attempt to flee. But when he has done none of these things, and has even offered to turn himself in, it seems strange that prosecutors chose to go out to his home to arrest him.
Cases involving child sexual abuse are often highly publicized because of the nature of the charges. When the allegations are against someone who is already in the spotlight because of his profession, it makes things even more sensationalized. But when prosecutors seem to want to make an even bigger spectacle by publicly arresting Sandusky a second time, it begs the question why. If anything, prosecutors are doing themselves a disservice in making this case hit the headlines yet again. It will severely impact the jury pool when it comes time for trial. If a prospective juror has read the news articles and has an opinion about the case before even walking in the door, he or she is typically excluded from being a juror. This is often necessary because the media reports on aspects of a case that won’t be admissible in court. If a juror heard about some piece of evidence that is inadmissible by reading the newspaper or seeing it on television, this could impact their vote of guilty or not guilty. As a precautionary result, the juror would be excluded.
All that prosecutors are doing in making the case even more public is narrowing their jury pool to a bunch of people who don’t read the news or watch the news on television. And a jury full of people who have no interest in the world around them is usually not a great idea for prosecutors. So in the end, the prosecution may wind up regretting the decisions they’re making now when it comes time for trial.