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Monday, June 11, 2012 - 4:31pm
BELLEFONTE, Pennsylvania-- Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky routinely had a then-teenage boy perform oral sex on him while the two showered together on the school's campus and elsewhere, the alleged victim testified Monday.
"It would have to be 40 times, at least," the now 28-year-old man said, adding that the abuse started when he was 14.
Known in court documents as Victim 4, he was the first person to testify at Sandusky's federal trial in Pennsylvania. The Nittany Lions' longtime defensive coordinator faces 52 charges tied to what prosecutors say was his systemic abuse of at least 10 boys over a span of 15 years. The 68-year-old defendant was under house arrest prior to his trial, which is expected to continue for about three weeks.
Like many alleged victims, the man on the stand Monday met Sandusky through Second Mile, the nonprofit group the ex-coach founded. He described growing up without parental oversight before Sandusky took to him -- playings sports with him; paying for uniforms, a snowboard and other items, taking him to Penn State games and doing other special things.
Despite what he described as systemic sexual abuse, the witness said he was "scared" and reluctant to tell anyone about it, including peers who admired him for seemingly being well connected with Penn State's football program.
"I didn't want to lose the good things I had," he said. "I kind of looked at Jerry as a father figure, and he was nice to me except for those other instances ... and I feel cool (because) I'm getting nice things out of it."
Victim 4 said he initially refused to talk to police after reports first surfaced that Sandusky was being investigated, and first gave the full details to the grand jury.
"I've spent so many years burying this in the back of my head ... but then I found out this happened over and over and over again, forever," he testified. "And I feel if I had just said something back then, this wouldn't have happened to (others). So I feel responsible."
Victim 4 says that Sandusky habitually put his hand on his thighs when they drove in a car together.
"It was like I was his girlfriend. ... That's what I'd do," he said.
Besides the alleged oral sex, Victim 4 detailed other instances of alleged abuse, including Sandusky trying to penetrate him in the shower, caressing him and "kissing ... my thighs."
This allegedly took place in the coaches' locker room and elsewhere on Penn State's campus, as well as the Toftrees Golf Resort and several hotels -- including on trips to Florida and Texas to watch the Nittany Lions play at the Outback and Alamo Bowl, respectively -- Victim 4 testified.
He described staying in a hotel with Sandusky and his wife on the road to attend one such bowl game, and being in the bathroom getting ready to take a shower when Sandusky walked in.
"He came in and was basically doing the caressing on me, ... and then started to push down on me, to motion me to go down there," the witness testified. "And he said, 'You don't want to go back to Snow Shoe, do you?" referring to the Pennsylvania community where the then-teenager was living.
This incident ended, Victim 4 testified, when Sandusky's wife called out, "Jerry, ... what are you doing in there?" at which point the alleged victim said he "jumped in the shower and locked the door."
Jurors were shown excerpts of letters Victim 4 said Sandusky wrote to him. In one, he writes, "I know that I have made my share of mistakes. ... My wish is that you care and have love in your heart. Love never ends. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things."
Defense attorneys had filed a motion earlier Monday seeking to keep out testimony involving prosecutors' allegations Sandusky exhibited "grooming behavior," including the letters to Victim 4.
The lawyers said they intend to offer expert testimony from a psychologist who "will explain that the words, tones, requests and statements made in the letters are consistent with a person who suffers from a Histrionic Personality Disorder," according to documents.
According to the National Institutes of Health, those with histrionic personality disorder "act in a very emotional and dramatic way that draws attention to themselves."
"The goal of a person suffering from this disorder in writing those letters would not necessarily be to groom or sexually consummate a relationship in a criminal manner, but rather to satisfy the needs of a psyche belabored by the needs of such a disorder," the defense lawyers write in their motion.
In opening statements, defense lawyer Joe Amendola suggested his client would take the stand. Sandusky would admit, he said, that he routinely "got showers with kids" after working out.
Sandusky has always maintained his innocence, Amendola said, claiming his client's alleged victims had changed their stories and were questioned until authorities received the answers they wanted.
"A lot of people lied," Amendola said. Some of the alleged victims have civil attorneys, he noted, calling that unusual. Others, he said, have a financial interest in the case.
"One of the keys to this case, one of the keys to your perception ... is to wait until all the evidence is in," Amendola told jurors. "Some of it will be graphic ... it's going to be awful. But that doesn't make it true."
However, he said Mike McQueary, a former graduate student who said he saw what appeared to be Sandusky sexually assaulting a boy in a shower in Penn State's athletic facilities in 2002, did not necessarily lie. McQueary has said he assumed sex was occurring even though he did not see the actual act, Amendola said.
Tom Kline, an attorney for Victim 5, told reporters later that his client had no financial interest and "never sought this out," but considers it "an obligation of citizenship" to testify.
"I would expect a serial story of serial predatory acts as shown by the prosecution," Kline said.
Amendola told jurors that some former Second Mile children will testify that Sandusky affected their lives in a positive way. And he questioned some alleged victims' behavior, like the one who went with a football game with Sandusky prior to his arrest.
Victim 4 brought his girlfriend and baby over to meet Sandusky "like he was bringing his family to meet his father," said the lawyer.
The alleged victim admitted Monday to visiting Sandusky about two years ago, so his girlfriend -- who was suspicious about the past between the two -- "could see that everything was normal."
"But that backfired because the whole time we were there, (Sandusky) only wanted to be with me and was sort of rubbing my shoulders. So (my girlfriend) knew," he testified.
The prosecution presented its opening statements first, during which childhood pictures of eight of the 10 alleged victims were shown on a projector screen. Prosecutor Joseph McGettigan described the extent of each victim's contact with Sandusky.
"You'll hear about systematic behavior by a serial predator. These were experiences that took place not over days, not over weeks, not over months ... but over years," McGettigan said.
Feelings of humiliation, shame and fear led to "years of silence" on the part of accusers, the prosecutor said. He reminded jurors that Sandusky, not Second Mile or Penn State, was on trial. But, McGettigan said, Second Mile represented "the perfect environment for a serial predator."
In interviews after his arrest, Sandusky acknowledged showering and "horsing around" with boys, but denied being sexually attracted to them. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
McGettigan referred to those interviews during his opening statement, saying, "Deny what you can ... and make an excuse."
A jury of five men and seven women, along with four alternates, was selected last week. Half of the 16 jurors and alternates have ties to Penn State, including one retired professor and one current professor, three graduates, two employees and one current student, showing the prominence of the university in the local community.
Authorities allege Sandusky abused some of the boys on the Penn State campus. The case raised questions about the school's response to allegations, with some claiming Penn State put its reputation ahead of protecting potential child victims.
University President Graham Spanier and iconic head football coach Joe Paterno lost their jobs soon after Sandusky's arrest amid criticism they did not adequately handle the matter when allegations involving Sandusky arose years earlier. Paterno died of complications from lung cancer in January.
McQueary, the former graduate student who became a head coach, is considered to be a key witness. He said he alerted Paterno in 2002 that he'd seen what appeared to be Sandusky sexually assaulting a boy, an allegation that authorities didn't learn of until years later.
Paterno apparently told the university's athletic director, Tim Curley, but no one notified police. Curley and Gary Schultz, Penn State's senior vice president for finance and business, are now facing felony charges of perjury and failing to report the allegations to authorities.
Prosecutors said later that the McQueary incident took place about a year earlier than what was originally alleged, causing defense attorneys for Curley and Schultz to argue that one of the charges should now be dropped. Both of them have pleaded not guilty, and their attorneys have said that prosecutors "charged this case before (they) knew the facts."
On Monday, defense attorneys requested that the grand jury testimony of Curley, Schultz and Spanier be admitted into evidence, saying they anticipate the three would invoke their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination if called to testify.
The defense also asked that if prosecutors attempt to enter portions of Sandusky's autobiography, "Touched," into evidence, that the entire text be admitted. Defense attorneys said they believe excerpts or "select snippets" may be used by prosecutors to mischaracterize Sandusky's "Motivations, purposes and actions, and attempt to use those excerpts to prove actions in conformity with their theories of how he propagated the alleged abuse."