Jerry Sandusky trial: Witness weeps as he testifies to abuse; McQueary recounts shower episode
By Joel Achenbach and Jenna Johnson,
BELLEFONTE, Pa. — Jerry Sandusky faced two accusers Tuesday, one a hulking former Penn State quarterback and assistant coach, the other a skinny 18-year-old who graduated from high school last week.
The first, Mike McQueary, testified that he saw Sandusky sodomizing a boy, maybe 10 to 12 years old, late one night in a locker room shower. The second, previously identified by the grand jury as “Victim 1,” sobbed and buried his face in his hands as he said Sandusky lured him into a close relationship and then sexually abused him repeatedly when he was still in junior high school.
“I just kind of blacked out and didn’t want it to happen,” he said, weeping as he described the first alleged assault, in Sandusky’s basement.
Sandusky, who has pleaded not guilty to 52 counts related to child sex abuse, showed no reaction to the searing testimony. The prosecution plans to bring eight alleged victims to the stand, and two have now testified in the trial about protracted sexual abuse by Sandusky.
The judge has required that the alleged victims be identified in court by their full names but said he hoped that media organizations would follow their usual practice of protecting victims’ privacy. The Washington Post generally does not identify alleged sex-crime victims.
McQueary said that on Feb. 9, 2001, he became fired up about his job after watching the football movie “Rudy.” He decided to go to work late in the evening to look at recruiting tapes.
He said he went to his locker and saw in a mirror the reflection of Sandusky in the shower pressed up against a young boy — who has never been identified — who was facing away with his hands on the wall. McQueary slammed his locker door to create a loud noise, he said. He turned and saw Sandusky and the boy directly.
“We looked directly in each other’s eyes. At that time, I left the locker room.”
The prosecutor asked if he had any doubt about the identity of the man.
“No doubt,” McQueary said, and for the first time in his testimony, he looked directly at Sandusky. “None!”
McQueary, a strapping man who looks like he just came off the gridiron, proved to be a combative witness during the cross-examination as the defense queried him about inconsistencies in his previous accounts of what he saw. McQueary said that when he told legendary coach Joe Paterno about the incident, “I made sure he knew it was sexual and it was wrong.” Paterno was fired after Sandusky was charged last fall, and he died in January.
McQueary told two other university officials about the incident but no significant action was taken against Sandusky, who, according to prosecutors, continued to prey on boys.
Four years ago, “Victim 1’s” allegation of sexual abuse by Sandusky set in motion the investigation that has culminated in the trial in this picturesque Victorian town.
“Victim 1” said he grew up not knowing his father. He was not yet a teenager when he began attending camps sponsored by the Second Mile, the charity Sandusky founded to help troubled kids.
The witness became frustrated when Sandusky’s attorney, Joe Amendola, asked him again and again about inconsistencies in his testimony to a grand jury and reports he made to officials. The teenager said it was difficult to tell his story to different people, because he was worried about being ridiculed or embarrassed.
His mother learned that the boy had a suspicious relationship with Sandusky and decided that they needed to meet with a school guidance counselor, the witness said. Under questioning from the guidance counselor, “Victim 1” said Sandusky had molested him. His mother said at the meeting that they should contact police or child protective services. But “Victim 1” said the counselor — who was not identified — advised caution.
“They said we needed to think about it. He [Sandusky] has a heart of gold and he wouldn’t do something like that. They wouldn’t believe me,” he testified.
Amendola asked the witness whether he or his mother had ever told anyone that they planned to get rich off the accusations against Sandusky. The witness said no. Amendola pressed, asking the witness whether he had ever told anyone that a payout from a civil lawsuit would allow him and his mother, who have lived in public housing, to purchase a “big house” and several cars.
“I have dreamed about living in a big house. I have dreamed about driving nice cars. Hasn’t everybody?” the 18-year-old said.
The first witness alleging abuse, a 28-year-old man who says he was molested in the late 1990s, testified Monday. He is known as “Victim 4” because that is how the grand jury referred to him. The two “victim” witnesses who have appeared so far have some obvious similarities. Both met Sandusky at a Second Mile camp.
Although the alleged sexual abuse occurred in different places — mostly showers for Victim 4, mostly Sandusky’s basement for Victim 1 — it built up in similar ways and involved oral sex, according to the testimony. Both witnesses said they felt like they were part of Sandusky’s family. Both said they became uncomfortable with what transpired but were not sure what to do. Both tried to slowly distance themselves from Sandusky, especially once they reached high school. Neither wanted to testify.
After Judge John Cleland adjourned for the day, Sandusky spent a few minutes chatting and laughing — breaking out in a big grin a few times — with a few old friends and supporters.
“We still believe in Jerry,” said Joyce Porter, who said she’d been a friend for 40 years. Asked about the testimony, she said, “Some of them, they’ve been coached, don’t you think?”
Another friend of 45 years, Kathy Sulkowski, said of Sandusky, “There’s so many kids that he turned their lives around. . . . I totally trust him.”