There's something weird about Jerry Sandusky.
Lay aside the slimy torrent of sexual-abuse charges now raging through the Bellefonte courthouse. There's something weird about his demeanor, about the way he handles himself, about his perplexing impassivity.
To me, the man whom prosecutor Joseph McGettigan terms a "predatory pedophile" has two too-large and too-white Bugs Bunny front teeth that make him look benign. If you were developing a caricature of a sinister predator, it wouldn't look like the 68-year-old Sandusky.
More than his looks, it's his manner, his air of curious calm. I've never seen him angrily lash out at the press hounds yapping around him; I haven't seen him scowl. At worst — when I see him on TV — his expression is neutral, but usually somewhat open and friendly — approachable. He seems as affable as a greeter at Target.
Add to that the inexplicable interviews he gave — to the New York Times and NBC's Bob Costas — and the inexplicable things he said, or didn't say. He didn't say, "I never had sex with a child," even though that might have been redolent of Bill Clinton's infamous, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman ..."
He stumbled verbally when Costas asked if he was attracted to little boys.
Sandusky told the Times, "I'm attracted to young people," without screaming, "but not in that way!"
His calm makes me wonder if he is that innocent or that hapless. That naive or that cunning.
Usually getting lawyered up means your lawyer shuts you down. His lawyer, Joseph Amendola, arranged for the interviews that turned Sandusky into a meatball sandwich. His words can be introduced as evidence, and have been. Anything his lawyer said would not be admissible. So is Amendola a dunce — or diabolical?
An interesting sidelight to the trial is that both Amendola and McGettigan served in the Philadelphia D.A.'s office. The Legal Intelligencer could headline it the Battle of the Philly Joes.
I'm not a jealous person, the only thing I might envy is someone's family happiness. Never their material possessions. My parents taught me wealth is not how you judge a person — whether he has none or whether he has a lot.
That's not to say there are not some things I wish I had. I sometimes ask people I'm interviewing what superpower they might like to have. The answer is something I seldom publish, but the question is sometimes psychologically revealing. Most people say they'd like to fly. That's not revealing. One person wanted to be invisible so he could commit crimes. Now, that was revealing.
The superpower I've always wanted — not flying, not X-ray vision, not the ability to lift freight trains — is the ability to read minds.
Can you imagine what a treasure that would be to a reporter? To know, for certain, if someone is lying? Politicians, star athletes, actors, lawyers, TV executives, editors — they'd live in fear.
That brings me to Jerry Sandusky.
How I want to get behind that placid face, penetrate his mind, crawl into his cranium to see, first, if he did it.
If he didn't, he needs intensive therapy about boundaries that adults must not cross with children.
If he did it, then I want to know: How? How does a man — a father and mentor and role model — get so twisted that he allows himself to act on perverted, selfish sexual desires? How do you give yourself permission to be so depraved? And, finally, Jerry, how can you stand being in your own skin?