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Jerry Sandusky: Accusers say they were lured by attention, gifts

June 13, 2012|By Michael Muskal

In what is becoming a theme, three more men described Wednesday how they received gifts, attention and even declarations of love from former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, who would later force inappropriate sexual contact on them.

The often graphic testimony brought to five the number of accusers, now adults, who have told about sexual abuse that they said took place when they were children. The prosecution is expected to call eight of the alleged victims to testify.

Sandusky, 68, faces 52 criminal counts charging that he abused 10 boys over 15 years. The boys were affiliated with a charity that Sandusky started for at-risk children. The school, whose athletic and academic programs have been roiled by the scandal, is about 10 miles from the Bellfonte, Pa., courthouse where Sandusky’s fate will be decided.

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By the close of the day Wednesday a sad and often teary sameness bound the testimony, which the prosecution hopes shows a pattern that marked Sandusky’s actions against the children.

The three alleged victims described Wednesday how Sandusky approached them through his charity and made them feel special with offers of football-related gifts, even trips to games. He would also bring them to Penn State on field trips designed to introduce them to new worlds.

For example, the man identified in court records as Victim 5, testified  that he met Sandusky in 1998 at a summer camp run by The Second Mile, Sandusky’s charity. By 2001, Sandusky was inviting the boy, around 12 or 13, to work out at the football program’s Lasch Building. According to media reports from the courtroom, the boy had never been in fitness facility and had never seen a sauna before.

Eventually the pair ended up in the sauna where the boy said Sandusky exposed himself. They then went to showers where an aroused Sandusky pressed against the child, who was forced to inappropriately touch the private areas of the former coach, the witness testified.

Other testimony was more graphic, including that of Victim 10, who described how he was assaulted in the basement of Sandusky’s home in State College, Pa., in the late 1990s. The man, now 25, said Sandusky trapped him and engaged in an oral sex act, then threatened him if he told anyone. He said he was about 11 years old at the time.

“He told me that if I ever told anyone that I'd never see my family again,” the accuser testified, according to media reports.

Sandusky later apologized. “He told me he didn't mean it and that he loved me.”

Gifts were a common lure, said another accuser, identified as Victim 7. He testified that Sandusky showered with him repeatedly and embraced him during sleepovers beginning in 1995 when he was 10 years old. Now 27, the man described how Sandusky wrapped “himself around me, holding me tightly” when he slept over at the coach’s home. Sandusky would inappropriately touch the boy, the accuser testified.

The man said he often received free football tickets to Penn State games – as recently as 2009 -- and the gifts overcame the repulsiveness of the past. “I wanted to go to games, I tried to block that stuff out and focus on the positives,” the witness said.

The defense cross-examined all three of the accusers, pointing out what they said were inconsistencies in their stories told over time. During the cross-examination, the defense scored its best success with Victim 10, who admitted that he spent 23 months in state prison for robbing an elderly man. He also acknowledged having had problems with drugs and alcohol.

But he insisted all that was behind him. “I'm married. I'm expecting” a child, he said.

Toward the end of the day, jurors heard testimony about Victim 8, one of two children whom the prosecution has been unable to identify.

A Penn State janitor, Jim Calhoun told co-workers in 2000 that he just seen Sandusky engaged in oral sex with a boy in the showers. Calhoun, who is suffering from dementia, cannot testify, but the co-workers were allowed to testify about they were told.

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michael.muskal@latimes.com

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