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Analysis: Number of victims persuaded Sandusky jurors in 'he said, he said' case


Friday night was not a good night for the Penn State community but you couldn't tell it from the atmosphere outside the courtroom. 

Jerry Sandusky was convicted of the overwhelming majority of the child sex abuse counts of against him. The verdict revealed that the jury believed the account of every of major witness the prosecution presented. There were only three verdicts of 'not guilty' in the 48 counts Sandusky faced. 

Each of the not-guilty verdicts revealed that the jury trusted the witness presenting the evidence but thought his account failed to satisfy the elements of one of the crimes. 

One of the three not-guilty verdicts involved Mike McQueary's testimony. The jury concluded that McQueary's testimony that he observed Sandusky and a boy in the shower did not establish, beyond a reasonable doubt, actual sex had occurred between Jerry Sandusky and an unidentified boy in the shower. 

McQueary himself testified that he was not sure what he saw but inferred that sex had occurred from the circumstances. The jury's conclusion perfectly mapped with McQueary's own testimony.

The jury's conclusion that McQueary observed indecent assault and unlawful contact with a minor demonstrated that the jury believed McQueary saw something improper and illegal, but not necessarily actual sex, as he admitted.

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The two other not-guilty verdicts involved victims who described inappropriate contact in showers with Sandusky.

The jury found that Sandusky sought sexual gratification in his interaction with each of the victims. The descriptions each of these victims offered were somewhat vague. The jury therefore concluded that the actual touching they described was insufficient to establish a crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

The jury nevertheless concluded that each of these victims had established that Sandusky's motives in his interactions with them were sexual in nature and convicted him of unlawful contact with a minor, endangering the welfare of a minor, and corruption of a minor.

 The eight witnesses demonstrated a range of credibility. Ultimately the jury concluded that all of the victims were credible but carefully examined their testimony to see if it established the crimes alleged.

It is entirely possible that no single victim could have prevailed in the he-said, he-said conflict in this case. But the victims reinforced one another. The odds that they were all lying were too remote for the jury to conclude anything other than they were all telling the truth.

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