Former coach testifies he saw Sandusky raping boy

Michael McQueary, Penn State assistant football coach now on leave, arriving at court to testify in the child sex abuse trial of former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. McQueary said he saw Sandusky sodomizing a boy.
Michael McQueary, Penn State assistant football coach now on leave, arriving at court to testify in the child sex abuse trial of former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. McQueary said he saw Sandusky sodomizing a boy. (GENE J. PUSKAR / Associated Press)
Posted: June 14, 2012

BELLEFONTE, Pa. - On the witness stand in the highest-profile criminal case in the country, surrounded by expensive lawyers and experienced investigators, former Pennsylvania State University assistant football coach Michael McQueary was the coolest guy in the room.

Time after time Tuesday, he politely but forcefully swatted back defense attempts to undermine his devastating testimony against former coach Jerry Sandusky.

In a remarkable series of retorts - "I'll make it clear for you" and "I think I've addressed that" and "I want to be sure I'm making my point" - McQueary at times seemed more like a law professor than a witness, refusing to accept that minor discrepancies in his account could be important.

It was McQueary's original grand jury testimony, that in February 2001 he inadvertently saw Sandusky raping a 10- or 12-year-old boy in the football locker room showers, that made plain the horror of Sandusky's alleged serial predation and the dismal failure of Penn State authorities to act to make him stop. McQueary has been attacked for how he reacted on that night, and his version of events has faced harsh scrutiny.

In contrast to two previous witnesses - alleged victims - McQueary's testimony offered a direct, formal accusation against Sandusky by a football colleague and fellow coach. Which is why defense attorneys attacked his testimony Tuesday.

"You want to play games with words, that's fine, sir," McQueary told defense lawyer Karl Rominger, who suggested that the coach never witnessed actual penetration. "The fact is, he had sex with a minor, a boy."

In the courtroom, Sandusky's friends and supporters fumed. "He's such a liar," one said.

McQueary was familiar on the Penn State sidelines, identifiable from the highest points of Beaver Stadium because of his bright red hair. Since the release of the grand jury report in November, speculation has swirled from State College to Sports Illustrated over what McQueary saw, did, or should have done.

On Tuesday, he straightened his tie, pulled his jacket forward, and laid out the incident in specific, horrific detail.

It was a Friday night when he went into the Lash Building locker room, motivated to get up from his bed and take on extra work after watching Rudy, an inspirational football movie. He heard the showers rushing - and something else:

"Smacking sounds," he said. "Very much skin on skin smacking sounds."

In a mirror, he saw the reflection of a naked Jerry Sandusky pressed tightly against the backside of a nude boy in the showers.

Defense attorneys again and again suggested McQueary was wrong about dates and details. They suggested he could have done more to help, that night and later.

McQueary flared when Rominger suggested a selfish reason for his not having called the police.

"You wanted to keep your job," the attorney said.

"Absolutely not," McQueary bristled, seeming to rise in his seat, "and don't put words in my mouth, sir. I got my job here because I was a good football coach."

Like the iconic Joe Paterno, like university president Graham B. Spanier, like others, he lost his job as the scandal became public and grew.

On the stand, McQueary was the first witness to directly acknowledge Sandusky, sometimes looking at the older man as he testified, and nodding to him when asked to describe Sandusky's role on the team. He recalled events in terms of their connection to the Penn State football schedule that once governed his life. "It was after the Ohio State game, I remember that," he said at one point.

Rominger produced a written statement by a state trooper in which McQueary referred to having had two views, not three, of the incident in the shower. He also had McQueary admit that he wasn't positive if the incident took place in 2001 or 2002.

McQueary wasn't shaken.

"I saw," he said, "what I saw."

And, he said, he was disgusted by it, forever after refusing even to be in the same room with Sandusky.

It's true, he agreed with defense counsel, he didn't call the local police that night. He didn't call the FBI, the state police, or the state attorney general. "I did talk to someone in charge of the Penn State police, and that's fact, sir," he said.

Also fact, he agreed, is that he has filed legal papers to preserve his right to sue the university under whistle-blower statutes. McQueary said he deserves to be compensated what he is owed - given that he may never again have what he truly wants in life.

"Frankly, I want to be a football coach at Penn State University, and I don't have that capability right now," he said. "I don't think I've done anything wrong to lose that job."

Contact staff writer Jeff Gammage at 215-854-2415,, or on Twitter @JeffGammage.

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