Statement Analysis®

Jerry Sandusky Accusations

On November 4, 2011, a grand jury indicted former assistant Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky on 40 counts of sex crimes against young boys. Sandusky has denied the allegations. On November 14, 2011, Sandusky gave a telephone interview to NBC's Bob Costas.

Costas: Mr. Sandusky, there's a 40-count indictment. The grand jury report contains specific detail. There are multiple accusers, multiple eyewitnesses to various aspects of the abuse. A reasonable person says where there's this much smoke, there must be plenty of fire. What do you say?

Sandusky: I say that I am innocent of those charges.

Sandusky uses language often used by guilty people; "I am innocent." In his mind, this is a truthful statement because in the U.S. a person is innocent until proven guilty. A person who is being falsely accused would directly deny the allegations by saying something like, "I didn't do it" or "I did not do things mentioned in the indictment."

Costas: Innocent? Completely innocent and falsely accused in every aspect?

Sandusky: Well I could say that, you know, I have done some of those things. I have horsed around with kids. I have showered after workouts. I, I have hugged them and I have touched their leg. Without intent of sexual contact. But - so if you look at it that way - there are things that, that wouldn't - you know, would be accurate.

When people use the phrase "you know" they sometimes want us to take for granted what they are saying is the truth. However, we should not take anything for granted and only believe what people tell us. There are some people who have a habit of saying "you know."

In the last part of his answer, Sandusky stumbles in his language. He repeats the word "that" and then he mentions a negative and a positive, "wouldn't" and "would."

Costas: Are you denying that you had any inappropriate sexual contact with any of these underage boys?

Sandusky: Yes, I am.

Costas: Never touched their genitals? Never engaged in oral sex?

Sandusky: Right.

Costas: What about Mike McQueary, the grad assistant who in 2002 walked into the shower where he says in specific detail that you were forcibly raping a boy who appeared to be ten or 11 years old? That his hands were up against the shower wall and he heard rhythmic slap, slap, slapping sounds and he described that as a rape?

Sandusky: I would say that that's false.

In the first question, Costas asked Sandusky if he was "denying" the allegations. It was easy for Sandusky to answer "Yes" because the word "deny" can mean that a person refuses to accept the fact that he did something. If a person refuses to accept the fact he is an alcoholic, we say he is in denial.

The second question is poorly worded. Costas is basically telling Sandusky that he "never touched their genitals." This type of wording makes it easy for Sandusky to agree by saying "Right."

In the third answer, Sandusky uses the word "would" which is a future tense word. "I am saying" or "I am telling you" is a stronger denial. He pauses in his answer by repeating the word "that." He then states that McQueary version of what he saw is "false." Using the word "false" is a weak way of denying something. This whole answer is a very poor denial and indicates that McQueary is telling the truth.

Costas: What would be his motive to lie?

Sandusky: You'd have to ask him that.

Costas: What did happen in the shower the night that Mike McQueary happened upon you and the young boy?

Sandusky: Okay, we, we were showing and, and horsing around. And he actually turned all the showers on and was, actually sliding across the, the floor. And we were, as I recall, possibly like snapping a towel, horseplay.

When a story comes from memory it should flow rather smoothly. Three times Sandusky repeats a word. This indicates he is pausing to think about what to say. This is a sign he is not relying upon his memory but is making up portions of his answer.

When a person uses the word "actually" he is comparing two thoughts. If you asked me if I bought a new car and I replied, "Actually, I bought a new truck," I am comparing "car" with "truck." When Sandusky uses the word "actually" what is he comparing? The boy turned the showers on as opposed to Sandusky turning them on? The boy sliding across the floor as opposed to having sex? The shortest sentence is the best sentence. The word "actually" is not needed and indicates deception in his statement.

McQueary stated he heard slapping sounds that he associated with someone having sex. Sandusky wants us to believe the slapping sounds were from a towel and horseplay. The problem is he used the word "possibly" which means he is not committed to his statement they were "snapping a towel."

Costas: In 1998, a mother confronts you about taking a shower with her son and inappropriately touching him. Two detectives eavesdrop on a conversation with you, and you admit that maybe your private parts touched her son. What happened there?

Sandusky: I can't exactly recall what was said there. In terms of, what I did say was that if he felt that way, then I was wrong.

Costas: During one of those conversations, you said, "I understand, I was wrong, I wish I could get forgiveness," speaking now with the mother. "I know I won't get it from you. I wish I were dead." A guy falsely accused or a guy whose actions have been misinterpreted doesn't respond that way, does he?

Sandusky: I don't know. I didn't say, to my recollection that I wish I were dead. I was hopeful that we could reconcile things.

By saying, "to my recollection" Sandusky is qualifying his denial that he made the statement he wished he were dead. His own language leaves open the possibility that he made this comment.

Costas: Shortly after that in 2000, a janitor said that he saw you performing oral sex on a young boy in the showers - in the Penn State locker facility. Did that happen?

Sandusky: No.

Costas: How could somebody think they saw something as extreme and shocking as that when it hadn't occurred, and what would possibly be their motivation to fabricate it?

Sandusky: You'd have to ask them.

Costas: It seems that if all of these accusations are false, you are the unluckiest and most persecuted man that any of us has ever heard about.

Sandusky: I don't know what you want me to say. I don't think that these have been the best days of my life.

Costas: To your knowledge, did Joe Paterno have any information regarding objectionable activities on your part prior to that report in 2002?

Sandusky: My, I can't totally answer that question. My answer would be no.

Sandusky wants us to believe that he does not know if Joe Paterno had any information regarding objectionable activities. The problem is he did not say, "I don't know" or "Not to my knowledge." The phrase "I can't totally answer that question" does not necessarily mean he does not know. There may be other reason why he "can't" answer the question.

The word "totally" means he can answer part of the question just not all of it.

Instead of saying, "No," he answers with "My answer would be no." Using the future tense word "would" weakens his denial.

Costas: Did Joe Paterno at any time ever speak to you directly about your behavior?

Sandusky: No.

Costas: Never?

Sandusky: No.

Costas: He never asked you about what you might have done?

Sandusky: No.

Costas: He never asked you if you needed help, if you needed counseling?

Sandusky: No. No.

Costas: Never expressed disapproval of any kind?

Sandusky: No.

Costas: How do you feel about what happened to Penn State, to Joe Paterno and to the Penn State football program and your part in it?

Sandusky: How do you think I would feel about a university that I attended? About people that I worked with? About people that I care so much about? How do you think I would feel about it? I feel horrible.

In his last answer, Sandusky answered the question with four questions. When a person answers a question with a question it usually means he was asked a sensitive question. In this case, Sandusky is not being deceptive but he feels horrible for being at the center of this controversy involving Penn State.

Costas: You feel horrible. Do you feel culpable?

Sandusky: I'm not sure I know what you mean.

Costas: Do you feel guilty? Do you feel as if it is your fault?

Sandusky: No, I don't think it's my fault. I've obviously played a part in this.

Costas: How would you define the part you played? What are you willing to concede that you've done that was wrong and you wish you had not done it?

Sandusky: In retrospect, I, you know, I, I shouldn't have showered with those kids. You know so.

Costas: That's it?

Sandusky: Yea, well that's, that's what hits me the most.

Costas: Are you a pedophile.

Sandusky: No.

Costas: Are you sexually attracted to young boys to underage boys?

Sandusky: Am I sexually attracted to underage boys?

Costas: Yes.

Sandusky: Sexually attracted? You know, I enjoy young people. I, I love to be around them. Um, I, I, but no I'm not sexually attracted to young boys.

Again, Sandusky answers the last question with a question indicating he was asked a sensitive question. This is a stall tactic used to give himself time to think about how he is going to answer the question. We have to wonder why he needs to think about his answer. This is an indication that he is lying when he says, "No I'm not sexually attracted to young boys."

Costas: Obviously you are entitled to a presumption of innocence and you'll receive a vigorous defense. On the other hand, there is a tremendous amount of information out there and fair minded common sense people have concluded that you are guilty of monstrous acts and they are particular unforgiving with the type of crimes that have been alleged here. And so, millions of Americans who didn't know Jerry Sandusky's name until a week ago now regard you not only as a criminal but I say this I think in a considered way but as some sort of monster. How do you respond to them?

Sandusky: I don't know what I can say or what I could say that would make anybody feel any different now. I would just say, if some how people could hang on until my attorney has a chance to fight, you know, for my innocence. That's about all I could ask right now and you know obviously it's a huge challenge.

Sandusky says, "I don't know what I can say." We would expect an innocent person to say, "I did not rape any boys" or "I did not fondle any boys." Even though Costas says people view Sandusky as being a "monster," Sandusky does not deny the allegations.

According to, a portion of the interview was not televised. They report on their website the following question and answer. (On June 18, 2012, the Chicago Sun-Times reported in an article, "Why did NBC not air the most damning part of Jerry Sandusky - Bob Costas interview?" that the following question and answer did take place.)

Costas: But isn't what you're just describing the classic MO of many pedophiles? And that is that they gain the trust of young people, they don't necessarily abuse every young person. There were hundreds, if not thousands of young boys you came into contact with, but there are allegations that at least eight of them were victimized. Many people believe there are more to come. So it's entirely possible that you could've helped young boy A in some way that was not objectionable while horribly taking advantage of young boy B, C, D, and E. Isn't that possible?

Sandusky: Well, you might think that. I don't know. In terms of my relationship with so many, many young people. I would, I would guess that there are many young people who would come forward. Many more young people who would come forward and say that my methods and, and what I had done for them made a very positive impact on their life. And I didn't go around seeking out every young person for sexual needs that I've helped. There are many that I didn't have, I hardly had any contact with who I have helped in many, many ways.

Instead of saying, "No, that is not possible because I did not molest any boys," Sandusky answers by saying, "I don't know."

He states that he did not go around seeking out "every" young person for sexual needs. His language tells us there were some young people he did seek out for sexual pleasure. He then states, "There are many that I didn't have." It could be he was about to say, "There are many that I didn't have sex with" but then changed his statement and said, "I hardly had any contact with."


On December 3, 2011, The NY Times published an interview Jo Becker conducted with Jerry Sandusky. A transcript of the interview is not yet available. In one portion of her interview, she asked Sandusky about the following question Bob Costas asked Sandusky on November 14, 2011: "Are you sexually attracted to young boys to underage boys?"

Sandusky responded by saying, "I was sitting there saying 'What in the world is this question?' You know, what, what, you know, am I gonna be, if I say, 'No I'm not attracted to boys,' that's not the truth because I'm attracted to young people, boys, girls."

Sandusky's attorney could be heard in the background saying, "Yeah but not sexually. You're attracted because you enjoy spending time."

Sandusky then goes on to say, "Right, I enjoy, that's what I was trying to say, I, I enjoy spending time with young people. I enjoy spending time with people. I mean, my two favorite groups are the elderly and the young. The young because they, they don't think about what they say and the old because they don't care. You know, so I love being around both groups, both those groups of people. Because and neither one of them are going anywhere. They're not caught up like all of us in trying to make a living and trying to, to impress people. They are who they are and that's why I love those groups. Those are my two favorite groups of people."

The question Costas asked Sandusky had to do with Sandusky being "sexually attracted" to young boys. Sandusky avoids addressing that issue. His attorney then has to jump in and remind Sandusky that he is not sexually attracted to young boys. Sandusky responds, "That's what I was trying to say." However, after being prompted by his attorney he still did not say, "I am not sexually attracted to young boys."

Sandusky goes on to talk about his two favorite groups of people: "the elderly and the young." Order is important. Sandusky first mentions the elderly. This indicates he enjoys being around the elderly more then being around the young. This is a slight indication of Sandusky's innocence. If he was a pedophile, we would expect him to reverse the order and mention the young first and the elderly second. However, we believe everything the person tells us. In the next sentence, when he goes into detail as to why he likes these two groups of people, Sandusky switches the order; "The young because they, they don't think about what they say and the old because they don't care." It may not be a rule of grammar but I believe that in order to be consistent one should use the same order as he did in the previous sentence. There is a reason why, when discussing why he likes these two groups, Sandusky reverses the order and talks about the "young" first and the "elderly" second.


On June 11, 2012, Jerry Sandusky went on trial in a Pennsylvania courtroom. He is accused of sexually abusing 10 boys over a 15 year period.


On June 22, 2012, Jerry Sandusky was found guilty of 45 of 48 counts. Mandatory minimums will keep him in prison for life.

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