Jerry Sandusky Trial, Day Three: The Defense Gets Steamrolled
The trio of young men who testified against Jerry Sandusky on the third day of his sexual-abuse trial couldn't have been more different in personality and temperament. Yet each of their testimonies was sexually graphic and disturbing—and midway through the prosecution’s fast-tracked arguments, a clear pattern has emerged in their allegations.
Accuser No. 3, a stocky brunette with what appeared to be a permanently knitted brow, said he first met Sandusky in 1999. The boy came from a troubled home and was in foster care when he was first referred to Sandusky's Second Mile summer camp for disadvantaged boys. Speaking in a soft voice that didn’t seem to fit his bulky frame, the 25-year-old explained that he was just 11 years old when the legendary Penn State assistant football coach approached him at the camp pool.
"He swam under my legs to try to pick me up on his shoulders," said the witness. "He stuck his hands inside my swim trunks ... He grabbed a hold of my genitals.”
That moment, the witness said, began a nearly yearlong relationship between man and boy, one that ended only when the child suddenly told his foster mother he just didn't want to see Sandusky anymore.
"I'm here to testify because it's the right thing to do," said the young man. The jury would learn that upon hearing about Sandusky's arrest last November, this witness called a police hotline to say he too was a victim. (The Daliy Beast has chosen not to reveal alleged victims’ names, though they are announced in court.)
Like the other alleged victims who have testified before him, accuser No. 3 told of surprising phone calls to his home during which Sandusky would ask his foster mother if he could take the boy to Penn State football games. Also like the other witnesses, the boy described disturbing car rides with Sandusky.
"He had his hand on my inner thigh as we drove.” By now, the jury must understand the prosecution's point in hammering home this alleged act by Sandusky. They want the jury to deduce that it was a sort of habitual foreplay employed by the popular coach.
Then, the witness told the jury of a time he visited the Sandusky home.
"We were in the basement. We were wrestling," he said in a monotone frequently heard from abuse victims who have had to tell their stories multiple times. "The defendant pinned me to the floor, pulled down my gym shorts, and started to perform oral sex on me." Asked by prosecutor Joe McGettigan what his reaction was at the time, the witness said, "I freaked out."
"Did he ever say anything to you about it?" McGettigan asked.
"He told me if I ever told anyone I'd never see my family again," the young man replied. "Later he apologized and said he didn't mean it, that he loved me."
On this third day of testimony, the courtroom’s pace seemed to race. In addition to accuser No. 3, the jury heard from two other alleged victims. John McQueary also took the stand to corroborate the previous day’s testimony of his son, the former Penn State graduate assistant coach Mike McQueary, who testified that he saw an unmistakable sex act between Sandusky and an unidentified boy in the coach’s shower room in 2001. The foster mother of one of the accusers testified about what a sweet little boy he had been.
And then, when all the courtroom’s technical difficulties were ironed out the jury got to hear Jerry Sandusky himself, explaining the explosive charges against him.
The prosecution played a 10-minute tape of an interview Sandusky gave to NBC senior sports correspondent Bob Costas last November. Given what this jury has heard so far from a total of five accusers, the interview was compelling.
“Are you a pedophile?” Costas asked bluntly.
“No,” Sandusky replied over the telephone. He is completely innocent of the 52 sex charges against him, he added.
Asked about McQueary’s allegation, Sandusky said, “I would say that that is false.” But he admitted his biggest mistake was showering with male children.
And in a way only the 19-time Emmy Award-winning Costas could ask, the jury heard, “If all of these accusations are false you are the unluckiest and most persecuted man that any of us have ever heard about.” There was a momentary sigh and a nervous laugh on the line and Sandusky said, “I don’t know what you want me to say. I don’t think these have been the best days of my life. These false accusations have stripped away so much of what we feel is important in life.”
Several members of the jury were taking notes. Sandusky himself ignored the courtroom’s big screen, sitting silently and staring straight ahead until it was over.
Accuser No. 4 arrived in court sporting a neatly ironed orange shirt and brown patterned tie. At 27 years old, his dark hair is prematurely graying at the temples and his goatee is meticulously trimmed. He is from a prominent local family. "How are you?" the prosecutor asked in greeting.
"Well," he said with a nervous laugh of resignation, "I'm here." As with all of the accusers, this man clearly did not relish being in court.
In 1995, when this witness was 10 years old, he said, he met Sandusky at the pool of the Second Mile summer camp. By the next year's camp he was thrilled to be included as one of those kids invited by Sandusky to go to Penn State football games.
"Going to games was very, very special to me," he told the jury. As was the alleged routine, Sandusky would pick up the boy ahead of time—and, he said, there would always be that hand on the thigh.
"If I had shorts on he'd put his hand up, under, and go toward my groin," he said. Once when he was wearing slacks, "He put his hand inside my pants and belt and touched my penis."
Unlike others who have testified that Sandusky engaged in criminal acts with them, this witness said he was not passive. He let Sandusky know he did not welcome the sexual behavior, especially after one particular shower in a Penn State locker room during which the older man is alleged to have picked up the naked, soapy boy and rubbed himself against the child’s backside. The witness said he screamed out in pain and never took another shower with Sandusky.
Then he was asked about the overnight visits in the Sandusky home when the coach would come in to his room at night.
“I would remember laying down and Jerry would come in and put his front to my back. It was like him wrapping himself around me,” he said, speaking directly to the jury box. “He would wrap his arms around the front of me and he would caress my nipples. And to this day that is something I just can’t stand anyone going near.” Accuser No. 4 also admitted he is “repulsed by chest hair,” which he attributes to the sexualized contact with Sandusky.
Accuser No. 5 was raised in a family that spoke Polish at home. He was referred to the Second Mile summer program at age 10 to help improve his English skills. At camp, Sandusky portrayed a Polish gangster in a skit, and the young boy was so mesmerized he introduced himself to the camp founder. Sandusky told him he too was Polish.
At the defense table, Jerry Sandusky smiled broadly and bobbed his head up and down at the memory. At 23 years old, this witness, in a short-sleeve shirt and close cropped dark hair, projected an almost innocent demeanor. Members of the jury leaned forward to hear his soft but deliberate as he described the day Sandusky allegedly took him to the campus gym, where the pair worked out before allegedly getting into the shower together.
“I tried to face the wall as much as I could,” the young man said. His voice cracked as his mother and father silently watched from a front row.
“I noticed his penis was enlarged. I just didn’t understand the significance of it then.” And the witness began to sniff and take in gasps of air to calm himself. “He threw [foam] soap at me and started rubbing my shoulders …” There was a pause in his testimony. “I felt his body on my back. I tried to move away but there was no more space for me to go. I felt his penis on my back …” Another pause as he struggled for control. “He touched my genitalia. He took my hand and placed it on his. I was able to get around the corner and get away.” He was offered a tissue for his sniffles and he wiped his nose and eyes.
The man and boy dressed in silence, the witness remembered, and without a word Sandusky drove him home. He never called the boy again.
Finally, at the end of the day’s proceedings, a Penn State janitor named Ron Petrosky testified about something one of his co-workers witnessed in the fall of 2000. That co-worker now suffers dementia and cannot testify. It was considered hearsay testimony, but the judge allowed it in as “excited utterance” testimony.
Petrosky told the jury he was working the 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. shift, cleaning up locker rooms in the Penn State athletic building when he saw two pairs of legs—one “hairy,” the other “skinny”—in the showers. He withdrew out of modesty and within five minutes saw Jerry Sandusky and a young boy, both with wet hair, leave the shower area. Petrosky testified that he said, “Good evening, coach,” and watched the pair walk down a long hall hand in hand. He turned back to clean the showers and ran into fellow janitor James Calhoun.
“His face was white. He was shaky. I said, ‘John, what’s wrong?’ He told me, ‘I just witnessed something I’ll never forget. I saw that man had the boy up against the wall …’ ” and the witness extended his arms well over his head to demonstrate as he continued his co-worker’s story. He was reluctant to use Calhoun’s exact words but the prosecutor insisted. “He said, ‘He was sucking on his dick!’ ” The older Calhoun was so upset by what he had seen, according to Petrosky, that a senior staffer was called and other janitors gathered to hear the story retold by the highly agitated eyewitness.
Not explained was why none of the men ever alerted authorities.