BELLEFONTE, Pa. — Jerry Sandusky forcefully asserted his innocence and described his own sexual history Friday during an hour of testimony as he seeks to have his child sexual abuse conviction overturned or be granted a new trial.

The former Penn State assistant coach was the first witness called in what is scheduled to be a three-day proceeding that focuses largely on whether he received adequate legal representation during his 2012 trial.

He emphatically denied being guilty of sexual abuse and claimed to have never had oral or anal sex with anyone, contradicting victims’ trial testimony.

“Absolutely not, that idea is absolutely foreign to me” and “disgusting,” said Sandusky, 72, currently serving a 30- to 60-year prison sentence for a 45-count conviction.

Sandusky said he was unfamiliar with criminal court proceedings and relied on his lawyers’ advice in waiving a preliminary hearing, not testifying on his own behalf and making other decisions.

He said his lead lawyer at the time, Joe Amendola, told him a preliminary hearing, with testimony from his victims, would add to the public’s negative perception of him. But he lost a chance to get more information about the prosecution’s case and force witnesses to make on-the-record statements they might contradict at trial.

Another major topic during the hearing was an interview Sandusky gave to NBC’s Bob Costas shortly after his arrest. Sandusky said the plan had been for Amendola to go to New York for the interview, but after he arrived there he decided it would be better to have Sandusky call in and assert his innocence.

Sandusky said he was unprepared and caught off guard when Costas asked if he was sexually attracted to children. He responded: “Sexually attracted, you know, I enjoy young people. I love to be around them. But no, I’m not sexually attracted to young boys.”

He was “absolutely surprised,” Sandusky testified Friday. “I didn’t expect anything that happened. I was not in a good emotional state.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.