No psuedonyms in Sandusky trial

June 5, 2012

In the run-up to his impending jury trial, the judge in the case of Commonwealth v. Gerald Sandusky has ruled that Jerry Sandusky’s accusers cannot testify under pseudonyms at the trial.

The judge in Jerry Sandusky’s child sexual abuse case says the alleged victims can’t avoid disclosure of their names by testifying under pseudonyms. He also is banning tweets and other electronic communications from inside the courtroom.

6/4/12 AP Alert – PA 13:42:33

“Secrecy is thought to be inconsistent with the openness required to assure the public that the law is being administered fairly and applied faithfully,” Cleland wrote in his order dismissing the request.
“It is argued in the motions that for an alleged victim of a sexual assault to fulfill that responsibility is so uniquely embarrassing that the person should be protected by being able to conceal his name. But why should any class of witnesses be protected? No victim of crime, after all, is spared the trauma of crime’s effects – and the severity of the trauma does not necessarily mirror the nature of the crime,” the judge said.
Cleland called the motions for pseudonyms “complicated, even controversial.”
6/4/12 Reuters News 16:28:36
The judge called the decision “controversial,” but this doens’t appear to be the case in all jurisdictions.
A quick WestlawNext search in All State and Federal brings back some interesting results:
Search:  victim testify using pseudonym
Notably, in the first few results under statutes it is clear that both Texas and Nevada provide statutory mechanisms for just the type of result the accusers’ attorneys were seeking in the Sandusky case.
A victim of a sexual offense or an offense involving a pupil may choose a pseudonym to be used instead of the victim’s name on all files, records and documents pertaining to the sexual offense or offense involving a pupil, including, without limitation, criminal intelligence and investigative reports, court records and media releases.
Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 200.3772 (West)
A victim may choose a pseudonym to be used instead of the victim’s name to designate the victim in all public files and records concerning the offense, including police summary reports, press releases, and records of judicial proceedings. A victim who elects to use a pseudonym as provided by this article must complete a pseudonym form developed under this article and return the form to the law enforcement agency investigating the offense.
TX CRIM PRO Art. 57.02(b)
While a few states do have provisions for this type of protection for accusers in criminal cases, it seems far more common in the civil realm, as a great majority of the cases and secondary sources that come up in the results for that search deal with protecting a victim’s identity during the pendency of a civil suit.  Perhaps the notorieity and publicity surrounding the Sandusky trial will cause some states to revisit those policies.