‘Victim 4’ testifies as Sandusky’s sex-abuse trial opens

Posted: June 12, 2012

BELLEFONTE, Pa. - Calm and collected, the young man identified for months only as Victim 4 took the witness stand Monday, told jurors his real name, and recalled the years of sexual abuse he said he endured at Jerry Sandusky's hands.

The 28-year-old's testimony started the first day of the former Pennsylvania State University assistant football coach's trial on 52 counts of child sex abuse. As he outlined countless incidents of alleged sexual contact, he offered a preview of even more graphic details likely to come as seven more accusers testify in coming weeks.

"I spent so many years burying this in the back of my mind - forever," the man said. "I thought I was the only one, and I was OK with that. I feel responsible now for what happened to the other victims."

Over the course of their four-year relationship, Victim 4 testified, he and Sandusky frequently showered together and wrestled naked. Sometimes, the man said, when he would stay at the coach's home, he woke up feeling as if he had been touched.

Prosecutor Joseph McGettigan told jurors Monday that Victim 4's story fit a pattern that Sandusky employed over and over again on at least 10 boys over 15 years.

Calling the former coach a "predatory pedophile," McGettigan said Sandusky targeted early adolescents with absent fathers and few role models whom he met through the Second Mile, the charity he founded for underprivileged youth in 1977.

"This was the perfect environment," McGettigan said. "But these were real people with real experiences. They were violated."

Acknowledging the mounting evidence against his client, Sandusky's attorney, Joseph Amendola, argued that Sandusky's efforts to mentor troubled youth had been grossly misinterpreted by a handful of young men out for monetary gain.

In his opening remarks to jurors, he tried to explain away Sandusky's frequent habit of bathing with young boys, saying communal showering was common in sports locker rooms.

"Many of us think that that's kind of strange - that it proves he's guilty. But in Jerry's culture, he'll tell you later, it was routine," Amendola said, suggesting Sandusky might testify in his own defense.

Throughout, the former coach sat quietly listening, hunching his shoulders and bowing his head at the more graphic descriptions of abuse.

Even while the back and forth between lawyers played out in front of the jury, machinations continued outside the courtroom.

Sandusky's lawyers filed a motion seeking permission to call an expert to testify on histrionic personality disorder, a diagnosis characterized by excessive emotion and attention-seeking from others.

Amendola would likely rely on that testimony to explain a series of what Victim 4 described Monday as "creepy love letters" Sandusky wrote him as he attempted to break off contact with the former coach.

"I know that I have made my share of mistakes," one of the letters read. "I hope that I will be able to say that I cared. There has been love in my heart."

Others careened in tone from passages that read like advice from an affectionate well-wisher to ones that sounded more like the pleadings of a spurned lover.

"We have known each other for almost two years; gone through many highs and lows," another read. "You seemed to have bought into everything, and we're doing well."

Amendola tried to cast the missives as writings of a concerned mentor hoping to inspire a teenager falling short of his potential.

That was how his relationship with Sandusky began, the 28-year-old testified.

He first met the coach in 1996 at a Second Mile summer camp. His mother had just remarried, and the youth did not get along with his new stepfather.

The boy quickly became an part of the Sandusky household, frequently sleeping over and meeting the coach for athletic activities at least two or three times a week. After each workout, the two would head to the showers together.

"At the time I had never showered with anyone before," he said. "It was kind of weird to take showers in front of other people."

They quickly evolved into naked wrestling, touching, and eventually oral sex, he said. When they were driving together in a car, Sandusky would routinely reach over and massage his thighs.

"Basically like I was his girlfriend," Victim 4 testified. "It freaked me out."

All the while, Sandusky lavished the youth with gifts including drum sets, tennis shoes, snow boards, and Penn State memorabilia, he said. Sandusky invited him to be in a photo taken for Sports Illustrated, he introduced him to college coaches and players, and he took him on team trips to the 1998 Outback Bowl and the 1999 Alamo Bowl.

While sharing a hotel room on one of those trips, Victim 4 testified, the coach walked in on him during a shower and pushed down on his shoulders - a gesture the teenager interpreted as an invitation to oral sex.

When he resisted, Sandusky threatened to send him back home, he said. Sandusky's wife, Dottie, called out from another room moments later, startling her husband and breaking up the encounter.

Victim 4 said that he started to pull away from Sandusky as he grew older but that this only seemed to inflame the coach's interest.

At one point, Sandusky drew up a contract on Second Mile letterhead that offered the youth money in exchange for focusing on class work and spending time working out. The document also required that Victim 4 meet with Sandusky weekly.

"It was him basically trying to force me to spend time with him," the man said.

Under cross-examination, Amendola pressed Victim 4 on why he took so long to break off contact and to come forward with accusations of abuse.

He told jurors Monday that Pennsylvania State Police investigators tracked him down through photos and documents seized from Sandusky's house before he ever made any accusation of abuse.

"I didn't want to lose all this," the man replied. "Jerry was like a father figure. I didn't want to lose somebody that was actually paying attention to me."

Testimony in the case is expected to resume Tuesday and continue through the rest of the month.

Contact Jeremy Roebuck at 267-564-5218 or jroebuck@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @jeremyrroebuck.

Staff writer Sue Snyder contributed to this article.

We invite you to comment on this story by clicking here. Comments will be moderated.

comments powered by Disqus