Local
3:15 pm
Tue June 19, 2012

Psychologist Says Jerry Sandusky Has Personality Disorder

A psychologist testifying for the defense in the Jerry Sandusky trial says the former Penn State assistant football coach has a personality disorder characterized by excessive emotionality and attention seeking.

Elliot Atkins told jurors that he interviewed Sandusky for six hours before diagnosing the defendant with "histrionic personality disorder." Atkins says people with the disorder often interact with people in inappropriately seductive ways and don't feel comfortable unless they're the center of attention.

Sandusky's attorney is hoping to convince jurors that the disorder could explain his client's letters and other interaction with the alleged victims that prosecutors claim shows his grooming of victims.

Earlier today another defense witness testified that one of Sandusky's accusers has a reputation for dishonesty and has "embellished stories."

The witness is a sister of the accuser's best friend. Sandusky's defense has called several character witnesses to testify this morning as they try to defend the former Penn State assistant football coach on child sexual molestation charges.

Before entering the Centre County Courthouse this morning, Sandusky's attorney said everyone should "stay tuned" to find out if the former assistant coach will take the stand.

Defense attorney Joe Amendola declined to say if Sandusky would testify as he entered the courthouse this morning. Amendola says the case is like a soap opera, comparing it to "General Hospital" and "All My Children."

Jurors could get the case before the end of the week. Defense witness testimony is expected to conclude Thursday.

Judge John Cleland announced the schedule yesterday after the first six defense witnesses testified about Sandusky's reputation in the community and the demanding hours and travel required of Penn State coaches.

The first day of defense testimony included a former Penn State coach who said he knew Sandusky brought boys into showers but never saw him do anything wrong.

Sandusky faces 51 counts after prosecutors dropped one. He denies all allegations against him.

The defense is suggesting that a personality disorder explains some of the charges against the former Penn State assistant football coach, but one expert said that may be a stretch.

Sandusky's lawyers are arguing that he suffers from histrionic personality disorder. It's defined by the American Psychiatric Association as a pattern of excessive emotionality and attention seeking. It's often characterized by inappropriate sexually seductive or provocative behavior and rapidly shifting emotions.

According to the National Institutes of Health, histrionic personality disorder occurs more often in women than in men.

We have a recap of Monday's testimony.