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Jerry Sandusky trial: Last accuser testifies of sexual abuse

June 14, 2012|By Michael Muskal
  • Joseph E. McGettigan III, center, and other prosecutors arrive for the fourth day of former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky's sexual abuse trial in Bellefonte, Pa.
Joseph E. McGettigan III, center, and other prosecutors arrive for the… (Nabil K. Mark / Associated…)

The last of eight accusers who say they were sexually abused by former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky testified Thursday as the prosecution’s case moved toward completion.

The testimony ended four days of often graphic descriptions of Sandusky giving the boys gifts and attention, then demanding inappropriate touching and, in some cases, sex. After the 18-year-old completed his testimony, Judge John Cleland said the trial  would resume Monday. The prosecution is expected to rest next week, and the defense will present its case.

The last of the accusers, identified as Victim 9 in court papers, testified that he spent more than 100 nights in Sandusky’s home and that he was forced into sex acts from July 2005 to December 2008. He was between 12 and 15 years old, he said.

PHOTOS: Who's who in the Sandusky case

The witness said he didn’t tell anyone of the abuse at the time. His mother contacted authorities in November after Sandusky’s arrest, and the witness told his story then.

Victim 9’s story was among the most graphic as prosecutors sought to leave the jury of seven women and five men with the strongest impression. The witness said Sandusky would visit him in the water bed in the downstairs bedroom and rub him all over. From touching, contacts escalated to include sex acts, including one that made the witness bleed, he said.

Sandusky, 68, faces 52 criminal charges of abusing 10 boys over 15 years. If convicted, he could be sentenced to life in prison. Sandusky admits showering with boys but denies molesting them.

The trial has moved at a rapid pace.  The prosecution presented its catalog of witnesses in just four days. Eight of 10 alleged victims testified this week; the identities of the other two have not been ascertained. Adults testified about those two cases.

All the accusers are now adults, but they recounted events from  when they were children, some as young as 10. They told of meeting Sandusky at facilities connected with the Second Mile, a charity he started for at-risk children. Sandusky would give them sports-related presents and spend time with them,  they testified, and at some point, the relationship would turn physical.

On Thursday, accusers described the same pattern. One witness, now 25 and known in court documents as Victim 3, told of seeing Sandusky as a beloved father figure. “He made me feel like I was a part of something, like a family,” the man said, according to media reports from the courtroom. “He gave me things that I hadn't had before.”

Victim 3 said he frequently slept at Sandusky’s house in State College, Pa., during 1998 and 1999. The coach would rub his body and touch private areas, he testified. The witness also described bear hugs in the shower, behavior that other accusers testified about earlier in the week.

The relationship ended when the witness was sent to live in a group home outside the area. Sandusky “just forgot about me, like I was nothing,” he said. “I would pray he would call me and maybe find a way to get me out of there … but it never happened.”

Earlier Thursday, a man identified as Victim 6 described showering with Sandusky at Penn State in 1998 when he was about 11 years old. Sandusky referred to himself as the “tickle monster,” the witness said.

When Victim 6 returned home with his hair still wet, his mother contacted authorities, who investigated but never brought charges.

Ronald Schreffler, a former Penn State police officer who now works for the Department of Homeland Security, testified on Thursday about his investigation of the mother’s complaint. Schreffler said he thought charges should have been filed, but then-Dist. Atty. Ray Gricar disagreed. Gricar  disappeared in 2005 and has been declared legally dead.

Victim 6 said he maintained good relations with Sandusky, exchanging electronic messages and notes, even meeting him for lunch as recently as last summer — months before the scandal erupted and led to the criminal charges.

The scandal also led to Penn State trustees firing head football coach Joe Paterno and university president Graham Spanier for not acting forcefully enough in dealing with reports of Sandusky’s alleged abuse. Two other college administrators face criminal charges.

When defense attorney Joe Amendola asked why he had decided to testify for the prosecution, Victim 6 said he had discussed his interactions with Sandusky with investigators.

“As I started to go over it in my mind I quickly realized — my perception changed, thinking about it as an adult as opposed to an 11-year-old,” he said. “That was inappropriate, what happened to me.”

Asked if he was seeking a financial benefit for testifying, the accuser answered, “Zero.”

The cross-examination reflects what the defense has indicated will be its strategy. It will seek to present Sandusky as someone who acted charitably toward children no one else wanted and, although  he might appear to have acted too affectionately, he did nothing criminal.

The defense’s second argument is that the witnesses changed their stories over the years or were prompted by authorities seeking to build a case. In addition, the defense contends, the accusers’ testimony has been colored by the possibility of making money from expected civil suits against deep-pocketed defendants, such as the university.

michael.muskal@latimes.com

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