Pic via Kevin Horne, Onward State's managing editor
Earlier today I came across a Deadspin post which recapped the eventful and odd evening had by some Penn State students last night. It all started for them when Jerry Sandusky’s co-counsel, Karl Rominger, the oversharing sidekick of Joe Amendola, tweeted (and since deleted) an offer:
Screen dutifully grabbed by SB Nation
That was less than 12 hours before Rominger was scheduled to appear in court for Sandusky's sentencing.
A few Penn State students – including some from Onward State, an independent student website that has been covering the Sandusky saga, and The Daily Collegian, Penn State’s student newspaper – showed up. The Daily Collegian reporter, a coed, brought along a notebook in what turned out to be a fruitless attempt to interview Rominger. The folks from Onward State, Kevin Horne and Drew Balis (and friends), whose names I recognized from their coverage over the past year, were just there for the free drinks, ostensibly paid for by Sandusky. They tweeted updates, which Deadspin has aggregated quite nicely. But I decided to reach out to them to see what their night was like– drinking with a lawyer for one of the most notorious criminals of this new millenium just hours before sentencing.
Drew Balis: [edited, for readability]
We walked in there. Rominger was sitting there at the bar and we introduced ourselves one-by-one, joked with him that we were covering the trial and probably shouldn’t be here, but whatever. He went around and bought everybody a drink.
He was pretty relaxed and we asked him a couple of things about [sentencing], and he pretty much said his job was done and, “Tomorrow, I’ll just be praying.” And he mimicked the praying motion.
Rominger was pleased when a coed seemingly responded to his bat signal. Balis:
Karl was tweeting to get a girl to show up, so she (the Daily Collegian reporter) gets there and he’s trying to entice her to get a drink. She said she can’t do that, it’s against the rules [for the Daily Collegian]. She came in carrying a notebook, and he was going to offer to buy her a drink, like he did for everybody. He was trying to get her to loosen up a little bit. But she said she wasn’t allowed to drink in his presence. He asked the bartender to give her a glass of milk, something like that.
He was like, “What do you mean you won’t drink anything? You should go to Messiah College.” Or something like that. Just more jokes like that.
I don’t think he was really trying to hit on her, I just think he was trying to have an informal thing. He was just trying to get her to take off her reporter hat, just relax a little bit.
Perhaps take off something else, too.
Rominger attempts to buy a student reporter a drink, pic via Horne's Twitter
During all this, Horne, the managing editor for Onward State, was tweeting updates. He wrote that Rominger was debating whether or not the Collegian reporter was hot. And, this:
Asked why he was at Zeno’s just hours before a monumental moment in his career, Rominger offered Balis a simple response: “They got Belgian beer, man. What the fuck kind of question is that?”
I asked Balis if anyone gave Rominger a hard time – since, you know, he’s defending the worst person on earth – but Balis said it was all cordial. The bartender at Zeno's knew Rominger, a frequent patron, and joked that he wouldn’t wish him luck at sentencing, but that it was “nice to see” him.
Everyone left the bar sometime around midnight. Balis walked home whilst some of his friends lingered outside the establishment.
Balis, who buried the lede in our conversation, told me that Horne and others wound up living mas with Sandusky’s lawyer – now roughly nine hours away from sentencing – when the group crossed the border for some late-night munchies… at Taco Bell.
“Do you want to call Kevin?” Balis asked. “He was at Taco Bell with Rominger.”
Do I want to call Kevin and ask him what happened after midnight at Taco Bell with Jerry Sandusky’s lawyer just hours before the sentencing hearing? Is Big Bird in grave danger?! OF COURSE I WANT TO TALK TO KEVIN!
I called Horne.
I ran into three friends, we were all talking. And then I see Karl, meandering down the street, alone. He’s like, “Yo, where can I get some drunk food?!"
So, Rominger, Horne, his girlfriend, and others walked a block to Taco Bell. Horne told me that Rominger, who was at least several beers deep, seemingly ordered two of everything on the menu.
We sat there and shot the shit for a half an hour, 45 minutes or so. Rominger told us to put our phones away at one point when we were talking. He said he didn’t expect to get paid for the case– he was doing it for publicity for his firm and that’s why he took it.
Rominger then told Horne that the Second Mile’s insurance company wound up picking up a lot of the legal bills, so he was getting paid. He also said Sandusky wasn't going to last long in prison and that he stood a 50/50 chance of winning his appeal.
There was more, but Horne said some parts of the odd conversation were off-the-record and that he intended to keep it that way. Dammit.
Rominger and his new friends all left Taco Bell at around 2 a.m., about seven hours before Sandusky was sentenced to 30-60 years in prison.
Rominger and Amendola plan to appeal on behalf of their client.
I asked Horne if there was anything else worth sharing:
The whole thing. We were all drunk, and it was like “Karl’s in college again.”
And his client is in jail, for good.