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Does Jerry Sandusky's personality disorder explain the charges?

Many people in Washington, D.C., have been following the Jerry Sandusky case closely since it broke earlier this year. The former assistant football coach has been charged with 52 charges of child sexual abuse, though one charge was recently dropped. But a psychologist recently testified that Jerry Sandusky has a histrionic personality disorder, which could explain the charges that have been leveled against him.

The psychologist has said that Sandusky has a deep-seated need for attention and that drive could potentially lead to inappropriate or seductive behavior. The psychologist came to his diagnosis after spending six hours with Sandusky, much of the time interviewing him. He also believes that Sandusky's autobiography and what prosecutors are calling love letters to one of the men who accused Sandusky of sexually abusing him both support, if not confirm, his diagnosis of a histrionic personality disorder.

Sandusky's attorneys have also noted that two of the state troopers who interviewed one of the accusers seem to have fed the man his story. In a taped interrogation, one of the troopers tells the accuser exactly what the other accusers had reported, encouraging the man to then "tell [them] what happened."

Some individuals who are accused of crimes were cold, calculating individuals who had complete control over themselves. Others, perhaps like Sandusky, were suffering from a kind of mental illness that prevented them from actually controlling their needs for attention. If someone can't control their behavior, however, should he or she be found guilty of the same crime as someone who voluntarily committed it?

Source: Reuters, "Psychologist in trial says Sandusky has personality disorder," Ian Simpson and Matt Morgan, June 19, 2012

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Law Offices of
James N. Papirmeister, Esq.

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As Published in Washingtonian Magazine | Washington's Best Legal Minds | 2013