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Pennsylvania judge denies Sandusky request for trial delay

By Mark Shade

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - The judge overseeing former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky's child sex abuse case has denied a defense request to postpone the trial by two months, saying a delay should be a matter of last resort.

Sandusky, 68, faces 52 counts of abuse stemming from accusations he molested 10 boys between 1994 and 2008. Sandusky, who has maintained his innocence, has been confined to his home since December.

His November indictment rocked the U.S. collegiate sports world and led to the dismissal of Penn State's long-time head football coach, Joe Paterno, who died last month. University President Graham Spanier also lost his job.

Defense attorney Joe Amendola asked Judge John Cleland on Monday to postpone the start of Sandusky's trial until mid July. It is now set to start with jury selection on May 14 in Bellefonte in Centre County.

But Cleland said on Wednesday in a written order that he would not delay the start of the highly anticipated proceeding because "the postponement of a trial should be the last resort."

"There is no assurance at this point that any delay of the trial to mid-July will not, in turn, give rise to subsequent issues prompting a request for still more delay. Delay has a way of begetting delay," Cleland said.

He did say he would consider a delay if jury selection takes longer than expected or proves more difficult than imagined, or because of conflicting demands for courtroom space and other logistical concerns.

"We are moving forward with Jerry's defense as we await further discovery materials from the Commonwealth. We will be ready to present Jerry's defense whenever his trial begins," Amendola told Reuters following the decision.

Cleland indicated he was somewhat sympathetic to the volume of material involved in Sandusky's case by ordering the Commonwealth to turn over the addresses and telephone numbers of any witnesses it plans to use in the case within seven days.

The judge also granted Amendola's request to have more time to counter the Commonwealth's response to his request for the information, including names of accusers, the prosecution plans to employ in its case.

(Editing By Cynthia Johnston)

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