Former Penn State Assistant Coach Jerry Sandusky walks into a court hearing on Dec. 13, 2011. (Getty Images)
BELLEFONTE, Pa. -- A jury could be seated as early as today in the child sex-abuse trial of former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky as lawyers continued their questioning of prospective panel members here for the second day.
State Judge John Cleland told the candidates that he was pleased with the pace of the selection process. Yet it has become quickly apparent that the small-town ties that bind the university to the surrounding central Pennsylvania rural community will be strongly represented in the jury box when opening statements are slated to begin Monday.
Five of the nine jurors selected Tuesday acknowledged deep links to the school to potential witnesses. The group includes five men and four women so far for the 12-person panel. Four additional members will be selected as alternates.
One of the four women said her husband once worked with the father of key witness Michael McQueary, the Penn State football assistant who has told a state grand jury that in 2001, he saw Sandusky in the school's locker-room shower with a young boy engaged in sexual conduct.
The woman also conceded under questioning that family members were Penn State football season ticket holders since the 1970s.
While attorneys mulled striking her from the pool, it was Sandusky who told his lawyer that he thought she could be "fair.''
Another panelist, a rising senior at Penn State, said he also worked for the athletic department and was once coached by a potential witness to the allegations involving an alleged victim, designated by the grand jury as "Victim 1,'' whose report to authorities in 2009 led to the broader investigation into Sandusky's relationship with children.
As lawyers and juror candidates delved into the potential conflicts, decisions about who to keep and who to disqualify became more difficult.
"I hope it's hard for every one,'' Cleland said. "If it's easy, we have the wrong jury.''