(BELLEFONTE, Pa.) — The case against former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky was headed for a dramatic conclusion today as the jury braced for a man known as Victim 9 who is expected to testify how he called out to Sandusky’s wife for help while allegedly being molested in their basement, but got no response.
Victim 9 will be the eighth and last of the alleged sex abuse victims to give detailed accounts of Sandusky’s aggressive assaults that could put him away for life if convicted of the attacks.
Prosecutor Joseph McGettigan told the court that he will conclude his case today, much earlier than expected.
Two other men told the court today how as young boys they were allegedly molested by Sandusky.
Victim 6, who is now 24, said that as a young boy growing up in State College, Pa., he idolized the Penn State football team and the day he got to try on football helmets and shoulder pads from the star players, ones that “were huge for me” was a thrilling day — until Sandusky asked him to take a shower. The man said that Sandusky bear-hugged him, tickled him, called himself the “tickle monster” and lifted him up in the shower saying he was going to “squeeze (the boy’s) guts out.”
The shower made him “uncomfortable,” but the memory of what happened stopped there. The man, identified as Victim 6, said he “blacked out” when Sandusky lifted him up in the shower, and he could not remember exactly what happened next. “Then he had his hands around my waist and lifted me up to the shower head to get the soap out of my hair. I believe my chest was to his chest,” he said. “I don’t think it was touching but I remember going into the shower head and having to close my eyes so soap wouldn’t go in, and that’s the last thing I remember about being in the shower. That’s the best recollection I’ve got.
“I don’t even remember being put down,” he said. “Everything else is just blacked out. I don’t remember any more.”
The episode became the linchpin for the first criminal investigation of Sandusky as a child sex abuser, launched in 1998 when the man’s mother called Penn State campus police to report that a staff member had been inappropriately showering with her son. That investigation came close to an arrest for Sandusky, according to testimony by the lead investigator, Ronald Scheffler, who worked as a criminal investigator for the university police. Scheffler said that he interviewed Sandusky about the incident, and Sandusky admitted that he had showered with many children. But Scheffler never followed up to see how many, what activities had gone on in the shower, or how old the children were. Scheffler told McGettigan that he believed there was enough to charge Sandusky, but district attorney Ray Gricar decided not to prosecute.
It would be 10 more years, and at least half a dozen other alleged victims, until Sandusky would be investigated once again, finally resulting in 52 counts of child sex abuse charges when he was arrested in November 2011.
The episode with Victim 6 was quickly pulled apart by Sandusky’s defense attorney, Joseph Amendola, who noted that though Victim 6 said he did not remember what happened in the shower, he told Scheffler in the days immediately following the incident that he was sure Sandusky never touched him sexually or asked the boy to touch Sandusky sexually.
“I could sort of feel like he kissed me once or twice on the head, like you would kiss your child, you know what I mean,” the boy said in the transcript.
“Like you would kiss a child,” Amendola repeated.
Amendola stressed that Gricar, a veteran prosecutor, decided not press charges because there was no evidence of sexual abuse, to which Scheffler conceded the point. Gricar disappeared without a trace in 2005, and so could not shed light on why he decided not press charges against Sandusky in 1998.
Amendola also had Victim 6 read aloud text messages he sent to Sandusky as recently as 2009, wishing him a happy Father’s Day and telling him on Thanksgiving that he was grateful God placed Sandusky in the boy’s life. The man also visited with Sandusky as recently as summer, 2011, when he went out to lunch with him.
Another witness identified as Victim 3 said that in wrestling and tickling with Sandusky the coach would sometimes cause the boy when he was 12 to have an erection and that the coach would sometimes touch his penis. But Victim 3, now 25, also said how much he liked Sandusky and was disappointed when he was sent to a group home and had to break off contact with him.
“He made me feel like I was part of a family. He gave me things that I had never had before,” Victim 3 said. When asked if he liked Sandusky, Victim 3 replied, “I loved him.”
Victim 3 is a member of the Army National Guard and spent a year deployed in Iraq.
Though Amendola made some headway in his attempt to show that the eight alleged victims may have misinterpreted Sandusky’s overly affectionate behavior as sexual, the boys’ accounts closely echoed that of other witnesses who say that showering, bear-hugs, and shampooing led to aggressive sexual activity. The testimony also echoed the statements of five earlier witnesses in another way, as each of them said that although they were touched inappropriately or sexually molested by Sandusky, they were so enamored with his status as a Penn State coach who could bring them to games and give them access to players that they kept quiet. “I think I introduced myself to him because I was real excited to meet him. I grew up in a Penn State fan house, my sister went there, I followed the program. Anything to do with Penn State I just wanted to be a part of it. I was a huge football fan then,” Victim 6 said.
“I tried to get out of his grasp but at same time be in a joking manner with him so I wouldn’t make him upset,” the man said.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Sheena Jones, CNN
Nate Eaton, EastIdahoNews.com
Sarah Stewart, KFOR
Stephanie Halasz, Jason Hanna and Livia Borghese, CNN