The sleepy town of Bellefonte, Pa., will take center stage on Tuesday as the Jerry Sandusky hearing will be a huge media circus, with 7,000 outsiders in town.
Bellfonte (pronounced Bell-Font) has about 5,000 residents as the seat of government in Centre County, Pa., the home of neighboring Penn State.
Its population will swell early this week as a mass of reporters, camera crews and other media types invade the hamlet for Sandusky’s preliminary hearing on Tuesday morning.
As many as 7,000 people are expected to be in town for the hearing, which starts at 8:30 a.m.
There was a lottery in recent weeks to determine who will be allowed in the courtroom as Sandusky may face some of the alleged sexual-abuse victims in the case. Extra reporters will sit in an overflow room in the courthouse to watch a private video feed from the courtroom.
Almost 1,400 people applied for 100 available courtroom seats. Streets in Bellefonte will be closed Monday and Tuesday.
In a similar move in Dauphin County, there is a public lottery for 80 seats at the December 16 hearing for former Penn State administrators Tim Curley and Gary Schultz in Harrisburg, Pa.
Court proceedings aren’t televised in Pennsylvania, so the hearing won’t be a repeat of nationally broadcast trials that have become a cable news staple.
But much more should be revealed about the state’s case against Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant football coach who is accused of molesting 10 boys he met through the Second Mile, a foundation he set up while working for Penn State as Joe Paterno’s top assistant.
In the past week, two more victims came forward in grand jury testimony, Sandusky was arrested again, and made bail by posting his house as collateral.
Sandusky’s lawyer, Joe Amendola, has indicated he won’t waive the hearing and wants to speak with his client’s accusers in court.
If the hearing happens and concludes, it will be up to out-of-county judge Robert E. Scott from Westmoreland County to decide if more hearings are held in Bellefonte, or in a different location that could yield a jury pool not that familiar with the case.