Penn State's Sandusky due in court as lawyers seek new sex abuse trial

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Jerry Sandusky presses appeal, wants to question witnesses


HARRISBURG, Pa., May 2 (Reuters) - Jerry Sandusky will appear in court on Monday as his lawyers seek to persuade a judge to give the former Penn State assistant football coach an opportunity to argue for a new trial after his 2012 conviction on child sexual abuse charges.

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Sandusky, 72, who is serving an effective life sentence in a state prison for molesting 10 boys, will appear before visiting Judge John Cleland in Centre County Court of Common Pleas in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania.

Photos from the case:

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Penn State's Sandusky due in court as lawyers seek new sex abuse trial
BELLEFONTE, PA - OCTOBER 09: Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky leaves the Centre County Courthouse after being sentenced in his child sex abuse case on October 9, 2012 in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. The 68-year-old Sandusky was sentenced to at least 30 years and not more that 60 years in prison for his conviction in June on 45 counts of child sexual abuse, including while he was the defensive coordinator for the Penn State college football team. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Jeffery Sandusky is pictured in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters February 13, 2017. Sandusky -- son of former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, who was convicted of sexually abusing young boys -- was charged in Pennsylvania February 13 with sexually abusing two young sisters.

(Centre County Correctional Facility/Handout via REUTERS)

BELLEFONTE, PA - DECEMBER 13: Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky arrives witrh his with his wife Dottie at Centre County Courthouse, on December 13, 2011 in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. Sandusky, who was charged with sexual abuse involving 10 boys he met through the Second Mile nonprofit organization, will face his accusers during today's preliminary hearing. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
BELLEFONTE, PA - OCTOBER 09: Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky walks into the Centre County Courthouse before being sentenced in his child sex abuse case on October 9, 2012 in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. Sandusky faces more than 350 years in prison for his conviction in June on 45 counts of child sexual abuse, including while he was the defensive coordinator for the Penn State college football team. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
BELLEFONTE, PA - JUNE 22: Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky leaves the Centre County Courthouse in handcuffs after a jury found him guilty in his sex abuse trial on June 22, 2012 in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. The jury found Sandusky guilty on 45 of 48 counts in the sexual abuse trial of the former Penn State assistant football coach, who was charged with sexual abuse of 10 boys over a 15-year period. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Jerry Sandusky arrives for his hearing at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, on Thursday, January 10, 2013. (Michael Kubel/Allentown Morning Call/MCT via Getty Images)
Dottie Sandusky, the wife of Jerry Sandusky arrives at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, for a hearing for her husband on Thursday, January 10, 2013. (Nabil K. Mark/Centre Daily Times/MCT via Getty Images)
Penn State University Office of the Physical Plant workers remove the concrete landing area that held the Joe Paterno statue, Tuesday, July 24, 2012, in State College, Pennsylvania. The statue was removed on Sunday in the wake of the Louis Freeh report and Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal. (Nabil K. Mark/Centre Daily Times/MCT via Getty Images)
STATE COLLEGE, PA - JULY 22: Members of the Hells Angels from Connecticut visit the site where the statue of former Penn State University football coach Joe Paterno once stood outside Beaver Stadium on July 22, 2012 in State College, The statue was removed by workers after Pennsylvania. Penn State's president Rodney Erickson made the decision Sunday in the wake of the child sex scandal of former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. According to an FBI report, it is believed that Paterno had detailed knowledge of Jerry Sandusky sexually abusing children before and after Sandusky retired from coaching at Penn State. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
BELLEFONTE, PA - OCTOBER 09: Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky (C) leaves the Centre County Courthouse after being sentenced in his child sex abuse case on October 9, 2012 in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. The 68-year-old Sandusky was sentenced to at least 30 years and not more that 60 years in prison for his conviction in June on 45 counts of child sexual abuse, including while he was the defensive coordinator for the Penn State college football team. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
STATE COLLEGE, PA - NOVEMBER 10: Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett speaks at a news conference following a night of rioting in response to the firing of head football coach Joe Paterno in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal on November 10, 2011 in State College, Pennsylvania. Corbett is the former state attorney general who launched the investigation in 2009 that eventually brought criminal charges against three former Penn State officials this week. As governor, Corbett is an ex-oficio member of Penn State’s board of trustees. Paterno was fired amid allegations that former former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was involved with child sex abuse. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
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His lawyers will argue that Sandusky was wrongfully convicted after a trial that rocked the university, raised questions about Penn State's fabled sports program and drew fresh attention to the issue of sexual abuse of young people.

"This is a story of how the media, overzealous law enforcement, a biased grand jury judge, prosecutorial malfeasance, a discredited and pseudo-scientific type of therapy, and serial instances of ineffective assistance of counsel resulted in transforming an innocent man into one of the country's most infamous child predators," lawyer Alexander Lindsay wrote in the petition.

State prosecutors vehemently disagree, saying in their response that the former Penn State assistant football coach's proclamations of innocence "and preference for revisionist history" do not undo his conviction.

None of the lawyers could be reached for comment ahead of Monday's hearing.

Sandusky is about at the halfway point in his potential appeals. After he was convicted in June 2012, Judge Cleland upheld the jury verdict. The state Superior Court did the same in 2013, and the state Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal in 2014.

His current appeal is under the state's Post-Conviction Relief Act, which offers an inmate a one-time opportunity, after his initial appeal are exhausted, to argue that his conviction was based on constitutional violations or ineffective assistance of counsel.

Lindsay must first persuade Cleland to grant an evidentiary hearing. Last week, he filed a list with the court of more than 20 witnesses he would call to prove various points in the petition.

They include all of Sandusky's former lawyers, the prosecutors and investigators in the Attorney General's office, and Sara Ganim, the former Harrisburg Patriot-News reporter whose expose of Sandusky five years ago won her a Pulitzer Prize. She is now with CNN.

The scandal is still roiling Pennsylvania State University, where defenders of the late Joe Paterno, the legendary head football coach brought down by the scandal, continue to argue he was shamefully treated. (Editing By Frank McGurty and David Gregorio)

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