The 18-year-old we know as alleged Victim 1, who launched the investigation that has led to several cases of child sex abuse against former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, gave emotional and gut-wrenching testimony in court this morning.
Sandusky has been charged with 52 counts of sex crimes against minors. He has maintained his innocence.
The man sobbed, softly testifying that Sandusky created a routine for assaulting him: Games and activities, taking him to his house for meals, kissing him goodnight, cracking his back as they lie face-to-face, blowing on his stomach, “like you do to a little baby to get them to laugh,” and then performing oral sex.
Several times, prosecutor Joseph E. McGettigan III had to stop to allow the teen to catch his breath.
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At one point, he stopped to gather himself, lifted his head and stared at Sandusky before continuing his testimony about the sexual assaults.
From the moment Victim 1 entered the courtroom, he seemed tortured. He was uncomfortable and very soft-spoken on the stand during questioning from prosecutors. During cross-examination, though, he became more comfortable and confident, often challenging defense attorney Joe Amendola’s characterizations of the events.
Amendola grilled the teen about motive, his credibility, and why he originally lied about or omitted much of his abuse allegations when initially interviewed by investigators.
At one point, he snapped back, “I’m here to tell the truth about what happened to me, just like everyone else.”
During the first half of his testimony, Victim 1 often closed his eyes, let out a breath and pursed his lips before describing his relationship with Sandusky. But the most emotional moment was when he explained the first time that Sandusky looked at him and said, “it’s your turn.”
Head in hands, the teen talked about blacking out during the assaults, freezing and going into “fight or flight” mode.
“My mind was telling me to move, but I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t move,” he said crying.
The assaults always happened in the Sandusky home, he said, in a basement. Dottie Sandusky’s name came up several times, and Victim 1 said she never came down to that basement area.
Sandusky, wearing a black suit, leaned forward as he testified, intently watching just as he had yesterday when Victim 4 took the stand.
Many of the jurors had their hands up to their faces.
Victim 1 told jurors he was about 13 by the time these assaults happened. He had already known Sandusky for a few years, and was uncomfortable by some of the stuff that led to the oral sex — like the kissing and back rubbing.
He wasn’t sure what to think of that, he said.
But he knew this was wrong, and the assaults caused an upheaval in his life.
His grades dropped in school. He quit the football team at Central Mountain High School, where Sandusky was a volunteer coach.
He was labeled as a trouble-maker, since the head football coach and assistant principal would call him out of class so Sandusky could talk privately with him.
Too embarrassed to tell anyone, he testified that he would go to Sandusky’s home as planned but then hide in closets or under pool tables, hoping not to be found.
He quit The Second Mile and joined Big Brothers Big Sisters instead to try to distance himself, he said.
In detail, he described one time that Sandusky stalked him, following him in his car as he walked home from school.
It was around that time that his mother began to get suspicious about how much Sandusky was calling her son. She had the school principal talk to Victim 1 after he asked her about the Megan’s Law website for sex predators, he said.
When a school official asked him if he was abused, he broke down and said yes, he testified. Then he cried again when he said the school told him to “think about” reporting his abuse.
“They said he has a heart of gold and wouldn’t do something like that, so they didn’t believe me,” he said, sniffling.
He and his mom left the school and immediately went to Clinton County Children and Youth Services on their own.
A report was made and that led to the eventual police and grand jury investigation, which is still ongoing.
Central Mountain High School has largely escaped scrutiny for the allegations that Victim One and his mom have made about how they handled the situation.
The Patriot-News reported that the teen was outed within the school, and bullied after the charges.
He graduated Thursday from a different school. He switched for the last five months of his senior year.
The beginning of his testimony centered around the “grooming” process that prosecutors have alleged Sandusky mastered.
Victim 1 said Sandusky started taking him places at age 11 or 12, first with other kids and then alone. They’d go to football games, swimming, to a local dam. He would come to his wrestling matches with him and take pictures, he testified, or invite him over to his house for meals and games.
His mom encouraged his hanging out with Sandusky, and it was fun, so he said, “why not,” he testified.
The first contact that was uncomfortable was something Victim 4 also talked about yesterday, that Sandusky would put his hand on the boy’s leg as they drove places in the car.
Then sleepovers started.
“At first it was the occasional weekend, and then in the summer it started being (every weekend),” Victim 1 said. “It was probably close to 100 (times).”
That’s where the contact started to escalate, he said.
“At first it was that he’d kiss me on the forehead goodnight, and then it came to him kiss me on the cheek and rubbing my back.”
Sandusky would pull the teen on top of his body, and they would lie face to face and Sandusky would crack his back, Victim 1 said.
“I didn’t know what to think,” he said. “I thought he sees me as his family and this is what his family does.”
He was 11 or 12 when the back-cracking and kissing on the lips and cheek started leading to Sandusky rolling on top of him and blowing on his stomach.
The routine escalated to sexual assaults.
On cross-examination defense attorney Amendola asked Victim 1 about an incident he reported at school in October 2010, in which he told school officials that a man in a dark suit who said he was from The Second Mile and asked his name.
Amendola said the incident was thoroughly investigated by the school and found to be untrue, but Victim 1 stood by his allegation.
Amendola also asked him about why he hired a civil attorney. Victim 1 said it was to help with the press attention after the charges were filed in November and whether he or his mom were bragging about the case.
“Have you, and your mom … ever told anyone that you or she are going to become rich out of this case with Jerry Sandusky?” Amendola asked.
Victim 1 answered no.
Story courtesy of PennLive