Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky is facing 52 counts of sexually abusing young boys in a case that has shaken his university and made worldwide headlines. While Sandusky has pleaded not guilty, if convicted on all counts he faces more than 500 years in prison. Here are the five things you need to know from day two of a tumultuous trial:
Victim No. 1 discussed how Sandusky allegedly abused him. Now 18, the accuser known as Victim No. 1 gave graphic testimony, often halted by tears, of Sandusky’s alleged abuse, which began when he was about 13 years old. Most of the abuse occurred, he said, in the basement of the Sandusky home, while Dottie, Sandusky’s wife, was upstairs. In evidence presented to the courtroom, Victim No. 1 recalled how their playfulness began with “back cracking, rolling around in bed, [and] back massages,” but later progressed to serious sexual contact. Once, when Sandusky told the boy to perform oral sex, he said he blacked out. “My mind is telling me to move, but I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t move.” His moving testimony also brought some jurors to tears as he explained their routine of dinner, games, and then bedtime, which consisted of “kisses” and “blowing on his stomach.”
Jessica Dershem, a child welfare agent that Victim No. 1 sought out, testified that she spoke to Sandusky about the alleged abuse. During their conversation, Sandusky admitted to lying on top of the boy and blowing “raspberries” on his stomach, but he denied any sexual abuse. Victim No. 1 reported the abuse to his mother and to officials at his high school in 2008.
Sandusky’s revered status allegedly led others to shrug off any thoughts of wrongdoing. A football coach and charity founder could never be a sexual predator, could he? Victim No. 1 testified that when he told a school guidance counselor about the abuse he was suffering, the administrator told him that “[Sandusky] has a heart of gold, and he wouldn’t do something like that.” When a local high school coach named Joe Miller walked in on the boy and Sandusky engaging in something that seemed like more than just wrestling, he, too, dismissed it. “I thought, well, it’s Jerry Sandusky — he’s a saint,” Miller testified. “I didn’t think anything of it.”
Mike McQueary isn’t just important to the prosecution’s case; he’s crucial. In a scandal wracked by secrecy and obfuscation, tangible details have been difficult to come by. The case against Sandusky would be many times more complicated to prove without the testimony of Mike McQueary, who claims that he happened upon Sandusky and a young boy in the football team’s showers during his tenure as a graduate assistant coach in 2001. His statements to the grand jury in November 2011 helped to blow the lid off the case, and Tuesday, he took the witness stand in Bellefonte, Pa. to explain to the jury what he saw that evening in 2001.
Here’s how McQueary laid it out for the court on Tuesday: Upon returning to the athletic facility late on a Friday night to put some new sneakers in his locker, he testified that he noticed Sandusky and the young boy in the shower together. He heard “skin-on-skin slapping noises” and saw the former defensive coordinator “right up against [the boy’s] back with his front.” McQueary testified that he got “three distinguishable looks” of Sandusky before slamming his locker door, hoping to make enough noise to announce his presence in an attempt to stop the alleged abuse.
But McQueary’s testimony isn’t ironclad, either. The former assistant coach’s statements have come under scrutiny after he asked to change the date that he witnessed the abuse from March 2002 to February 2001, a change Judge John Cleland accepted last month. After McQueary left the locker room, he called his father, speaking in admittedly “vague” terms about what he saw. He never mentioned the words “anal sex” out of respect and his own embarrassment, he told the jury, but he felt it was evident that the incident “was extremely sexual in nature.” When McQueary went to Joe Paterno’s house the next day he also made sure the coach “knew it was sexual” but he testified that he didn’t use any specific, graphic terms to describe the encounter.
Former university vice president Gary Schultz may have known more than he let on. Penn State administrators may have kept a secret file about Jerry Sandusky’s wrongdoing. According to court documents obtained by CNN, Gary Schultz, the former vice president for business and finance at Penn State, allegedly “created, maintained and possessed” a file of documents that contained details about Sandusky’s alleged sexual abuse. The documents, which weren’t released by the Attorney General’s Office, could prove that the administrators knew more about the accusations against Sandusky than they originally told the grand jury. In the file, according to CNN, are “e-mails between Schultz, Curley and others that contradict their testimony before the Grand Jury.”
Schultz, who was forced into retirement in the wake of the scandal, and Tim Curley, the university’s former athletic director who’s currently on administrative leave, are both already facing perjury charges for allegedly lying to the grand jury. They also face charges of failing to report the supposed abuse to campus police, a department that Schultz controlled. Schultz and Curley have denied any wrongdoing.