The alleged sex abuse victims of a former Penn State University football coach will not be allowed to use fake names to hide their identities during his criminal trial, a Pennsylvania judge ruled on Monday.Prosecutors charge that Jerry Sandusky, 68, had sex with 10 boys over a 15-year period. Five of them - numbers 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 - filed motions last week asking for permission to use pseudonyms when his trial begins.
But Judge John Cleland said he could not allow their true identities to be hidden during the public trial, which is expected to start around June 11.
Jury selection begins on Tuesday in the small town of Bellefonte, about 10 miles northeast of State College where the Penn State campus is located and where some of the abuse was alleged to have taken place.
"Secrecy is thought to be inconsistent with the openness required to assure the public that the law is being administered fairly and applied faithfully," Cleland wrote in his order dismissing the request.
"It is argued in the motions that for an alleged victim of a sexual assault to fulfill that responsibility is so uniquely embarrassing that the person should be protected by being able to conceal his name. But why should any class of witnesses be protected? No victim of crime, after all, is spared the trauma of crime's effects - and the severity of the trauma does not necessarily mirror the nature of the crime," the judge said.
Cleland called the motions for pseudonyms "complicated, even controversial."
The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape said last week it would not be in the best interests of public safety to force alleged Sandusky victims to reveal their true identities.
"Sex offenders continue their behaviors until they are caught and stopped, and the only way that we know who those people are is when victims are brave enough to come forth and tell us," said PCAR spokeswoman Kristen Houser.
NO TWEETS, EMAILS FROM COURT
Judge Cleland also issued a ruling Monday barring reporters from using Twitter or email to post reports on the trial from the courthouse in the central Pennsylvania town of Bellefonte, near State College, where Penn State is based.
In his response to major media companies, which wanted him to clarify his decorum order governing the use of electronic media during the proceedings, Cleland said journalists may use their electronic "tools of the trade" to write quotes and details about the unfolding case.
But he said they may not tweet or email "any form of communication to any person or device either in or out of the courthouse or courthouse annex."
The New York Times, CNN, The Wall Street journal, the Harrisburg Patriot-News, the Pennsylvania Newspapers Association and others wanted Cleland to modify his decorum order to allow the verbatim tweeting and emailing of courtroom events, which reporters have done at every pre-trial event to date.
Cleland said allowing tweets or emails during jury selection and the trial might "impact the judge's ability to assure a fair trial could be conducted."
Also on Monday, the judge denied a request by Sandusky's attorney, Joe Amendola, to have the prosecution turn over all of the information he claims it has collected about prospective jurors.
Amendola said he had an anonymous letter claiming prosecutors had this information. Cleland sided, however, with prosecutors who said the material is protected by the attorney work product privilege.
"While it may be theoretically helpful to have background information that might be used to predict how a particular juror might view the issues in a particular case ... the practical fact is that jurors are not automatons," Cleland wrote.