The wife of convicted child sex abuser Jerry Sandusky broke her silence for the first time since the former Penn State assistant football coach was sent to jail, saying the case against her husband was based on lies and his accusers motivated by money.
“Do I believe him? I definitely believe him. Because if I didn't believe him, when I testified at trial, I could have not said what I said. I would have had to tell the truth," Dottie Sandusky said in an exclusive interview with NBC’s “Today” show from her home in State College, Pa.
“I think it was, they were manipulated, and they saw money,’’ she told NBC's Matt Lauer. “Once lawyers came into the case, they said there was money.”
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Jerry Sandusky, 70, was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison after being convicted in June 2012 on 45 of 48 charges of sexually abusing young boys over a 15-year period.
When asked if her husband of 47 years was guilty of inappropriate behavior with some of the young boys who have accused him, Sandusky said, “I don't believe that, I believe he showered with kids. That’s the generation that Jerry grew up in ....There were always people coming in and out no matter what time that was.”
Sandusky was joined during the interview by filmmaker John Ziegler, who researched the case for two years and has interviewed Jerry Sandusky twice in prison. He believes Jerry Sandusky is innocent.
“I presumed, like a lot of people, that Dottie has to be delusional or not understand the case,’’ Ziegler said. “I'm certain of one thing above everything else after two years of investigating this case, and that is that Dottie Sandusky is not delusional. She knows the case better than the vast majority of media members, and she is positive that Jerry Sandusky is innocent.”
During the interview, Sandusky took Matt Lauer to her basement where the accusers said some of the abuse occurred.
"It is not a dungeon," she said. "It is not what those kids said. You can scream, and you can hear it up to the second floor.”
Lauer pointed out that the house is quite small and that one of the victims said he screamed in the basement while he was sexually abused and that Dottie never came down to check what was going on. Dottie said she never heard anyone “because he didn’t scream.”
Lauer also asked about an article in The Washington Post in which Melinda Henneberger wrote, "We know that predators prey on the more vulnerable, who they can later paint as unstable; that’s standard. But they also tend to choose spouses who can be counted on to suppress any unpleasant ideas that might occur to them."
"I'm not a weak spouse,'' said Sandusky, who visits her husband once a week at a maximum security prison in Waynesburg, Penn., a three-hour drive from her home. "As you know...they call me 'Sarge' because Jerry said I kept everybody in line. If they want to say that, let them say that. I know who I am. And I know who Jerry is. And I know he did not do the horrible crimes that he's convicted of.”
Lauer pointed out to Ziegler and Sandusky that it may be hard for the public to believe that everyone in the case has been manipulated or is lying.
“Look, the reality is, I understand exactly what you're saying,’’ Ziegler said. “People will think that this is insane because they were given a perception of this case that was totally wrong.”