Jury selection began Tuesday in the case of Jerry Sandusky, the former Pennsylvania State University assistant American football coach accused of molesting 10 boys over a 15-year span.
Sandusky, 68, will face a jury selected from the State College area where he lives and served for years as a top aide to the late Joe Paterno, Penn State's legendary football coach.
Paterno, who headed one of the most lucrative and successful US college football teams, was fired in November for failing to go beyond his legal minimums in informing the authorities when told that Sandusky had been seen molesting a boy in a team shower.
Paterno died from lung cancer in January at age 85.
Sandusky faces years in prison if convicted of all counts, but even a partial acquittal means he could face the rest of his life incarcerated.
The allegations have rocked Penn State and tarnished the reputation of Paterno, who was the most successful coach in college football history.
The fame of Penn State University's team and the money the victories brought in helped enlarge the school's reputation and increase its academic offerings.
Sandusky is accused of recruiting victims through a charity he ran to serve disadvantaged youths. He faces 52 criminal counts of sexually abusing at least 10 boys between 1994 and 2008, with some of the alleged incidents taking place on campus.
University employee Mike McQueary claimed to have seen Sandusky raping a boy in the football team's locker room showers. McQueary reported the incident to his superiors, but not police.
Two university officials, former athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz are also charged with lying to the grand jury regarding what they knew about sexual abuse allegations and failing to report them. They are to be tried separately.
Lawyers in the case will question at least 200 people in an effort to find a panel of 12 people and several alternates with no interest in the case. The trial is scheduled to start on Monday.
Judge John Cleland earlier denied a bid from several victims to testify under pseudonyms in order to maintain their privacy.
Source: AFP American Edition