He is 18 years old. He graduated from high school last Thursday, and he suffers anxiety attacks. His testimony was unforgettable.
When the witness stepped into the courtroom today, the second day of the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse trial, observers knew immediately he was an emotionally wrought teen. He is short in stature, with the slim build of a track athlete. He walks with stiff, rounded shoulders and talks with his chin down, eyes looking up warily through his lashes.
Once in the witness box, the young man, who said he’s never known his father, kept his hands clasped tightly in front and him. He spoke softly in one-word answers.
(The Daily Beast has chosen not to reveal the names of Jerry Sandusky’s accusers, though the judge has ruled that they must identify themselves in open court.)
Today’s witness, the second accuser to testify, said he was active in Sandusky’s Second Mile summer camp program and in 2004 was singled out by the former Penn State coach for special attention.
It was the same kind of attention—the prosecution would refer to it as “grooming”—as so-called victim No. 1 described yesterday.
“He put his hand on my leg while he was driving,” the young man said. “I stayed over at his house. I slept in the basement, in a bedroom on the right hand side.” And as if anticipating what was coming next, the witness looked on the verge of tears. His almond-shaped eyes would squeeze shut; he shook his head as if to clear his thoughts. The microphone picked up the sound as he repeatedly sucked in air.
As the boy struggled to answer questions about his almost three-year long relationship with Sandusky, the defendant sat just a few feet away with a sort of odd, beatific-looking permanent grin on his face, his chin resting on his bent knuckles, his gaze riveted on the teen in the witness box.
“He would kiss me on the forehead at night, then kiss me on the cheek, then he’d be rubbing my back, cracking my back,” he said, all the while looking down at his folded hands. After another big gulp of air he added, “He didn’t really say much...he’d roll over on top of me, then roll me over on top of him.”
Prosecutor Joe McGettigan prompted him forward in the narrative. “Did he do anything else?”
“He kissed my lips ... rubbed underneath my shorts ... then he blew on my stomach. I didn’t know what to think,” the witness said. He said at the time he was just 11 or 12 and weighed well under 100 pounds.
“Did he touch your butt?” McGettigan asked in a gentle tone.
“Yes,” the young man said, his face reddening as he struggled to take a breath.
“What else did he do?”
The teen shook his head, squeezed his lips tight and said, “He ... he ... he put his mouth on my privates. I spaced. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t say anything. I froze.” And as the witness began to openly weep, his sobs filled the stock-still courtroom.
When he recovered, he told the jury that there came a time when Sandusky “looked at me and said, ‘It’s your turn,’ and he made me ...” The tears flowed again and the young man lifted the tail of his checkered shirt to wipe them away. He struggled to finish the thought and finally said, “He made me put my mouth on his privates.”
The jury matron stepped forward to hand a tissue to the young witness, which he immediately used to cover his face and his racking sobs.
The prosecutor asked where Mrs. Sandusky was during this alleged sexual activity. “She was always upstairs. I never once saw her downstairs,” he said.
When he was in the ninth grade, the young man said, he tried to break it off with Sandusky. He left Second Mile and joined the Big Brothers organization. But Sandusky allegedly pursued him both at school and his home. “I acted out,” the witness said. “I started wetting the bed, I got in fights with people. Stuff I would never normally do.” His mother sensed something wrong and scheduled an appointment for her son with the school counselor, where he said he finally began to tell his story. The school principal contacted police.
On cross-examination, defense attorney Joe Amendola got the witness to admit he had told different versions of the story over the years. The witness explained that he had been “just a kid” and had left out details out of embarrassment.
“Did either you or your mother ever tell people you were going to wind up with a big house and cars as a result of this case?” Amendola asked the witness, who grew up in public housing.
“I’ve dreamed of living in a big house and driving a nice car,” the young man replied. “Hasn’t everyone?” He denied there are plans to file a civil suit. His attorney Slade McLaughlin, confirmed that to The Daily Beast.
The young man’s testimony was part of a full day of dramatic testimony. Next, the prosecutor surprised court observers by calling former Penn State assistant football coach Mike McQueary to the stand.
The onetime Penn State quarterback, with his shock of bright red hair, spoke directly to the jury and in a firm voice and tone related his version of the much-reported story of how he allegedly discovered Sandusky and a boy in a team shower late one night.
McQueary said he’d been alerted the moment he walked into the locker room by “the sound of rhythmic slapping sounds ... skin on skin.” He said he first caught sight of two naked people in a mirror when he glanced over his shoulder while putting sneakers in his locker. In disbelief, he said, he turned around to make sure of what he saw.
“Jerry Sandusky was up against the back of the boy...his arms were wrapped around the boy’s midsection ... they were as close as you could get,” he said. Shocked by what he saw, McQueary loudly slammed his locker door to alert them it was time to “break it up.” When he turned back around to the shower, “I was looking directly at them and they were looking at me. I saw their bodies. I was five feet away. There was no doubt what I saw,” he said.
On cross-examination, the defense attorney tried to shake McQueary’s story and to get him to admit he didn’t actually see a sex act. The witness bristled. “I did not see a penis in a rectum,” he said in a deliberate tone. “But the lights were on ... I saw them naked ... his chest was pressed against the back of the boy. Absent seeing a penis in a rectum I think they were having sex.”
This testimony caused three young men on the jury to lean forward in their chairs, where they remained in rapt attention.
Yesterday, as opening statements to the jury were underway, the defense filed a unique motion with the court. It asks permission to present an expert who will testify about histrionic personality disorder as a way to explain the so-called creepy love letters Sandusky wrote to the young accuser who was the trial’s first witness.
“Basically, the psychiatrist will explain the words, tones, requests, and statements made in the letters are consistent with a person who suffers from HPD. And, that 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 judge has not yet ruled whether Sandusky’s team may present such an expert during its case-in-chief.