HARRISBURG, Pa (Reuters) - A judge on Monday granted nearly all requests from ex-Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky, allowing most of his 14 grandchildren to visit him under house arrest and securing a local jury for his child sex abuse trial.
Judge John Cleland of Centre County Court in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania also denied a prosecution effort to keep Sandusky within the four walls of his State College home after a teacher at a neighboring elementary school complained he was standing on his deck, watching students on the playground.
Sandusky, 68, is charged with 52 criminal counts stemming from accusations he molested 10 boys between 1994 and 2008. He has been confined to his home since December. The trial is set to start in May.
Weighing the elementary school's concerns as well as complaints by neighbors that Sandusky was in his driveway shoveling snow, the judge ruled the prosecution's request to keep him indoors rather than simply on his own property was not warranted.
"No evidence was presented that at any time the defendant made any effort to contact any of the children by signaling or calling to them or that he made any gestures directed toward them or that he acted in an inappropriate way whatsoever," the judge ruled.
"The generalized concerns of parents, while understandable, cannot justify additional bail restrictions."
In a 30-page ruling issued on Monday, Cleland also allowed Sandusky to travel to the office of his lawyer, Joe Amendola, to prepare his defense, as long as he provides at least 36 hours notice to the court.
Sandusky was partially successful in his effort to learn more about witnesses against him. The judge ruled that the prosecution must provide the time, date, location and victim's age at the time of any alleged offense but not the particular acts Sandusky is accused of committing or the names, addresses and ages of witnesses.
A defense request to get any early look at grand jury testimony to prepare for trial was deferred to another judge who supervised the grand jury that indicted Sandusky last fall, rocking the collegiate sports world.
The school's athletic director Tim Curley, later placed on administrative leave, and finance official Gary Schultz, who later resigned, were charged with lying to the grand jury and failing to report the allegations to police.
Under Cleland's ruling, Sandusky is allowed to meet in his home with 11 of his 14 grandchildren. Cleland deferred a decision on the remaining three grandchildren to a judge overseeing their parents' divorce, as their mother, Sandusky's daughter-in-law, objected to the request.
He granted Sandusky permission for other forms of contact, such as telephone calls and electronic communication like email and Skype, with all 14 grandchildren.
Cleland also denied a prosecution request for a jury made up of people from outside Centre County, home of Penn State. The prosecution had argued that a jury made up of local residents would place the case in "peril" because they are too emotionally and financially intertwined with the university.
The judge acknowledged "the extensive involvement of Penn State in the life of citizens of Centre County, and the existence of the extraordinary mass media coverage of this case." The judge said he was convinced a fair jury could be selected.
"The presumption should be in favor of at least making an effort to select a fair and impartial jury in the county where the defendant has been charged," the judge said.
A spokesman for the attorney general's office, Nils Frederiksen, declined to comment on the judge's decision, saying, "The rulings are being reviewed."
Amendola was not immediately available for comment.
In a separate court filing on Monday, Curley cited the statute of limitations when he asked a judge to throw out the criminal charge of failing to tell police about a 2002 allegation that Sandusky sexually assaulted a boy in the locker room showers. Curley also asked the judge to bar any grand jury testimony from Paterno, citing his death, a move he said could eliminate the perjury charge too.