BELLEFONTE, Pa. — Jerry Sandusky faced an accuser in court for the first time Monday, and the alleged child sex abuse victim claimed the former Penn State assistant football coach had inappropriate contact with him over 50 times.
The high profile trial began Monday and, following opening arguments, Victim No. 4 took the stand and offered graphic testimony, alleging Sandusky abused him over the course of several years.
Jerry Sandusky arrives at court Monday.
Now 28, the man delivered some of his most damaging testimony while under cross examination by defense attorney Joe Amendola. He said he kept quiet about the alleged assaults — most of which he asserts took place in the late 1990s — because he had made peace with the situation and because, I thought I was the only one.
Then I found this happened over and over again.
I feel responsible for what happened to other victims.
Eight alleged victims are scheduled to testify against Sandusky. But No. 4 was the only one of them to take the stand Monday. He spoke of meeting with Sandusky several times per week for years. When asked by Amendola why he said there were times Sandusky treated him like a son, the witness snapped back.
He treated me like a son in front of other people, he said.
Outside of that, he treated me like a girlfriend.
The witness said he met Sandusky in 1997 after being referred to a summer camp the coach ran on the Penn State campus through the charitable organization The Second Mile. A few weeks later, he said, Sandusky invited him to play basketball on campus. They did, according to the witness, who said that afterward they showered together in the old Penn State football coaches' locker room in the East Locker Room Building.
He described the showers as being innocent at first — involving horseplay — but becoming progressively more sexual in nature over the course of several weeks. He described graphic sexual acts that took place. He did not report the alleged incidents at the time, he said, because he was embarrassed when schoolmates began teasing him about what they perceived as an improper relationship with Sandusky.
He also admitted having become attached to the gifts Sandusky gave him, which included sporting goods, game balls and a jersey autographed by former Penn State All-American linebacker LaVar Arrington. He also enjoyed sideline passes to Penn State home football games, trips to PSU bowl games and access to Nittany Lion players — all courtesy of Sandusky.
There was something good happening to me, he said, referring to the gifts and special treatment.
The prosecution also showed what the witness described as one of the creepy love letters Sandusky sent him when he tried to break off the relationship in the early 2000s. Written on Penn State football stationary, it said, in part, I know that I have made my share of mistakes. However, I hope that I will be able to say that I cared. There has been love in my heart. My wish is that you care and that you have love in your heart. Love never ends.
Centre County Courthouse.
When police contacted the witness in 2011 regarding the Sandusky investigation, he said he tried to avoid them and initially denied anything sexual in nature ever took place. He admitted to not being completely candid about the situation until he was called to testify before a grand jury.
Even Monday, he said he was not comfortable discussing the matter.
I don't even want to be involved now, to be honest, he said.
The air conditioning in the two-century-old building went out early in the afternoon, leading Judge John Cleland to give the attorneys permission to remove their jackets. None took him up on the offer.
The AC was restored late in the afternoon, during some of the most heated back-and-forths between the opening witness and Amendola. The witness forced Amendola to repeat nearly every question he asked and then would snap an answer back at the attorney.
Sandusky, in a gray suit, sat at the defense table. He was hunched forward in his chair for most of the day, and when Victim 4 took the stand Sandusky angled the chair to look directly at the witness.
The only other witness Monday was Marc McCann, a director of programs at The Second Mile. He was called to address contracts the first witness had signed with Sandusky for something Sandusky called The Program. The contracts called for Sandusky to pay the alleged victim — then a minor — for completing the program, which involved physical activities and spending time with Sandusky.
The contract said The Program was sanctioned by The Second Mile. McCann said the organization never sanctioned such contracts between adults and children.
Sandusky's attorney referenced the contracts as an example of Sandusky trying to help Victim 4, but the defense did not ask McCann any questions.
I don't see a need (for them) either, McCann said.
The trial resumes at 9 a.m. Tuesday.
MORNING REPORT: Opening statements made
BELLEFONTE, Pa. -- The Jerry Sandusky trial is under way at the Centre County Courthouse, as the jury heard opening arguments Monday morning.
Sandusky is the former Penn State assistant football coach who is accused of child sex abuse.
In an opening statement that lasted just under an hour, prosecutor Joe McGettigan described Sandusky as a serial predator who used his positions with the charitable organization The Second Mile and the Penn State football program to seek out his alleged victims.
He abused the trust of those two institutions, McGettigan said.
Jerry Sandusky walks to the courthouse.
Meanwhile, defense attorney Joe Amendola painted his client as being in a David vs. Goliath battle with the prosecution, which he repeatedly referred to as the government. His statement took just under 40 minutes.
Amendola also admitted, This is a daunting task, due to the number of alleged victims (10).
During his statement, McGettigan used an overhead projector to show photos of the eight alleged victims who are scheduled to testify in the trial. The youngest is now 18. But the photos were all of the men when they were the age at which Sandusky is alleged to have abused them.
Dressed in a gray suit and flanked by his attorneys, Sandusky stared at the photos that were projected onto a huge screen on the right side of Courtroom 1.
Sandusky's wife, Dottie, was seated in the front row of the gallery during Judge John Cleland's jury instructions. When the instructions were complete, the judge asked anyone who would be a witness in the case to leave the courtroom.
Amendola asked for a sidebar. Following it, Dottie Sandusky was escorted from the courtroom.
There were 16 people in the area of the gallery reserved for Sandusky's family and friends. Among them was longtime Penn State assistant football coach Dick Anderson.
Anderson and one of Sandusky's sons, Jon, did not look at the photos of the alleged victims when they were projected up on the screen.
McGettigan talked about each alleged victim and what their testimony would entail. He said Victim 4 (we are not publishing the names of the alleged victims) would recount an incident where he went on a bowl trip with Jerry and Dottie Sandusky, and Dottie Sandusky walked in on a situation where her husband was trying to coerce the then-teenager into oral sex.
Amendola told the jury that six of the eight alleged victims scheduled to testify have already hired attorneys for civil suits.
These young men have a financial interest in this case, he said.
He also focused heavily on the charge of sex abuse that arose from the grand jury testimony of former Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary, who says that in 2001 he walked in on Sandusky and a boy — both naked — in a shower in Penn State's Lasch Football Building.
We don't think Mike McQueary lied, Amendola said. He saw something and made assumptions.
Witnesses are scheduled to begin testifying Monday afternoon.
During the arguments, McGettigan typed away on an iPad. He strongly admonished a reporter who left her seat before the jury was released for a morning recess.
Though there has been intense media and public interest in this case, when the trial started the 200-seat courtroom was not full. There were roughly 40 empty seats.
At times, reporters struggled to hear the attorneys during their opening statements, as they faced the jury and spoke in relatively low voices.