Woman who referred children to Sandusky's charity is first in line for closing arguments

BELLEFONTE, Pennsylvania (CNN) - Connie Boland arrived on the steps of the Centre County courthouse at 2:30 a.m. Thursday to be first in line to hear closing arguments in the child rape trial of former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.

Boland, 60, is a guidance counselor for a central Pennsylvania school district. She prefers not to say which one. But she said she had referred students to the Second Mile charity Sandusky founded for underprivileged children.

"People put a lot of trust in him," she said. "The program was wonderful. It saddens me he could ruin something that good."

Sandusky, 68, has pleaded not guilty to 51 counts. He is accused of abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period. His defense rested its case on Wednesday.

Boland doesn't think any of the children she referred to the program are among his accusers, but her worry is part of what makes her want to listen to the testimony.

"I felt guilty that I may have sent a child to a program where they could have been harmed," she said. "... They don't need any more trauma in their lives."

Boland was also in the courtroom on Wednesday, but said she was disappointed. "I was hoping Sandusky would take the stand," she said.

He didn't, and so she's left without his explanation for the charges against him.

"I don't know what he could have said that would have convinced me," she said, but she still wanted to hear it herself.

Instead she heard testimony from Sandusky's wife, Dottie, who told jurors she recalled at least six of the accusers spent the night at their home but said she did not witness any sexual abuse.

"I was disappointed he'd have his wife on the stand and he didn't testify in his defense," Boland said.

Her arm in a sling from recent surgery, Boland brought a folding chair with her Thursday to wait more than six hours for court to begin.

She said she's followed the case ever since Sandusky retired from Second Mile. That was in 2010, according to a grand jury report outlining accusations against him.

Boland said she lives 50 minutes away from the courthouse. She brought two outfits and hopes she can stay until a verdict is reached. "I want to be here when the verdict is read," she said.

While many, including a slew of character witnesses, insist Sandusky is a great man who never could have abused children, Boland feels differently.

"I believe he did it and I think he needs to be punished," she said. "... You don't hurt children."

CNN's Chris Stewart contributed to this report.


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