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DOWD: What Sandusky's wife saw — and didn't see

  • Dorothy Sandusky, wife of former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, arrives at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa., Tuesday, June 19, 2012. Jerry Sandusky is charged with 51 counts of child sexual abuse involving 10 boys over a period of 15 years. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

BELLEFONTE, Pa.

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Her nickname is "Sarge."

"I'm strict," Dottie Sandusky told the court with a proud tilt of her chin. "I like for things to go in a certain way. We expect a lot from our kids."

Yet the main question about Sarge is why she was so lax.

The 69-year-old grandmother, married to Jerry Sandusky for 45 years, "46 in September," came to court Tuesday while defense lawyers debated whether to risk putting her husband on the stand. (They didn't.) The coach who excelled in defense has put up a negligible one in court.

Dottie, a small, pert woman with short gray hair and a lime-green sweater, arrived at the trial of her husband as an object of fascination. She embodies the grim mystery at the center of "this drama," as one of her friends sardonically calls it: How could everyone in the community, including those who seemed to represent the highest ideals, like Dottie Sandusky and Joe Paterno, turn a blind eye to Jerry Sandusky's aberrant and abhorrent behavior toward vulnerable boys? If the prosecution is right, he is an emotional sociopath who conducted a serial crime spree quite openly at Penn State and in his own home.

On the stand, Dottie Sandusky saw no evil, heard no evil and spoke only a little evil — against the cherubic-looking boy, now a tightly coiled 28-year-old, who was the most intense rival for her husband's attentions 15 years ago, getting what he called "creepy love letters" from his predatory "father figure."

"He was very demanding," she said of the boy. "And he was very conniving. And he wanted his way, and he didn't listen a whole lot."

The accuser had testified that on a trip to the Alamo Bowl in 1999, as Jerry threatened to send him home if he would not perform oral sex in the bathroom, Dottie had come to the edge of the bathroom and called out "What are you doing in there?" before disappearing again after a brief talk with her husband.


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