A total of eight accusers have shared their stories with the jury during the first four days of Jerry Sandusky’s child sexual abuse trial. Sandusky, a former assistant football coach at Penn State, stands trial for allegedly abusing at least 10 young boys over 15 years. If convicted of all 52 counts, he faces 500 years in prison. Sandusky has denied the charges. Here are the revelations that emerged Thursday as the prosecution continued to present its case.
One alleged victim blacked out during an episode of abuse. Victim No. 6 explained in graphic detail Thursday how he was sexually abused in a Penn State locker room in 1998, marking the earliest episode of abuse reported so far. Hitting the showers after a workout, the alleged victim, then 11 years old, chose a shower head across the room from Sandusky. “I didn’t want to be right next to him in the shower. I felt really awkward with that situation.” He testified that Sandusky, who referred to himself as the “tickle monster,” came over to his shower and began to tickle the boy. Then, he said, Sandusky gave him a bear hug from behind, allegedly saying “I’m going to squeeze your guts out.” But the alleged victim, now 25, couldn’t remember what happened after Sandusky supposedly lifted the boy up to the shower head to wash shampoo out of his hair. “It’s just kind of black,” he said. When he returned home, he told his mother he had showered with Sandusky, prompting her to call the police, marking the first known investigation into the coach’s alleged child abuse.
Sandusky said he “wished he were dead” when confronted. Victim No. 6’s mother confronted Sandusky in a secret police sting operation. After she learned of the abusive act and called police, the mother invited Sandusky to their home under the pretense of arranging a meeting between him and her son. But it was all a ruse: police were hiding in an adjacent room, according to the testimony of Ronald Schreffler, a former Penn State police investigator. Schreffler and another officer were listening in as the mother confronted the coach about the shower incident. Schreffler said he heard the coach say: “I wish I could ask for forgiveness. I know I won’t get it from you. I wish I were dead.” Schreffler testified that he referred the case to the local district attorney’s office for possible prosecution, “but the D.A. didn’t go for that.” The district attorney at the time, Ray Gricar, went missing in 2005 during a short road trip. His body has not yet been found, and he was declared legally dead last year.
The investigation was blown open by an anonymous email in 2008. Authorities were clued in to Sandusky’s alleged abuse in December 2008, when Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller received an anonymous email advising her to contact Mike McQueary. A former assistant coach for the Penn State football team, McQueary testified Tuesday that he witnessed Sandusky and a young boy in the locker room showers late one Friday night in Febuary 2001. Upon seeking statements from McQueary in 2008, investigators were led to Victim No. 1, who had reported the abuse to his school guidance counselor that year. Investigators continued their search for victims and witnesses by subpoenaing the University for a list of everyone who had access to Penn State buildings after hours.
It was “daunting” getting the alleged victims to talk. The lead investigator on the case, Anthony Sassano, testified Thursday about the difficulty of getting information out of the alleged victims. Sassano, who works for the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office, was tasked with tracking down the victims after the case was referred to his office. “To get them to admit to performing sex acts on a man was a daunting task,” Sassano said. But after investigators uncovered enough evidence about Sandusky’s likely victims, many came forward to tell their stories.
Photographs and travel details helped track down Sandusky’s alleged victims. Upon searching Sandusky’s personal files, Sassano testified he found a number of photographs in the former coach’s home featuring the man known as Victim No. 1. He also found as many as 20 boxes in a Penn State storage room containing handwritten letters to a young boy, one of which read, “I know I have made mistakes,” according to a report by the New York Times. Investigators also retrieved lists of young campers that attended a summer camp hosted by Sandusky’s charity, The Second Mile. Some of the names on the list were highlighted with asterisks, including those of alleged victims 1 and 9. Victim No. 4’s name appears on passenger lists for a trip to the Outback Bowl one year. Another alleged victim was in photographs from the 1999 Alamo Bowl. Sassano testified that investigators even pored through Sandusky’s own autobiography, Touched, for names and photos of potential victims.
The case, according to Judge John Cleland, is moving at a rapid pace. Though the trial was predicted to last three weeks, it will likely wrap sooner than that. The trial is in recess through the weekend and will resume Monday, when the prosecution is expected to wrap their case.