Sandusky's adopted son: I was victim of sexual abuse

Posted: June 22, 2012

BELLEFONTE, Pa. - Jerry Sandusky's youngest adopted son stepped forward Thursday and said he, too, had been molested by his father.

The allegation was made public hours after a Centre County jury began deliberating the former coach's fate on charges involving 10 other boys.

In a statement from his attorney Andrew Shubin, Matt Sandusky, 33, said he told prosecutors Wednesday that he had been sexually abused by his father and was willing to testify against him.

The experience has been "extremely painful," the statement read. Shubin, who represents two other Sandusky accusers, declined to comment further when reached outside of the Bellefonte courthouse where Jerry Sandusky's case is being tried.

Matt Sandusky was taken in by Jerry Sandusky and his wife, Dorothy, in 1996 when as a boy, then known as Matt Heichel, he set fire to a barn near his biological mother's home. The couple formally adopted him when he turned 18.

In many ways, he matched the profile of many of the young men that have come forward to accuse Jerry Sandusky in his ongoing criminal trial.

Prosecutors allege in that case that the former coach targeted boys from poor, single-parent homes that he met through the Second Mile, the charity for underprivileged youth he founded in 1977.

And like them, Matt Sandusky grew up poor and without a father. He initially met Sandusky through a Second Mile camp when he was 7.

But signs of a troubled relationship between the boy and the Sanduskys emerged early on.

In 1994, police were called to the former coach's residence to investigate allegations of stealing by the youth. Police records referenced in court filings by Jerry Sandusky's defense attorney Joseph Amendola last year say that Matt Sandusky ran away in 1996.

And four months after moving into the Sandusky home, Matt Sandusky attempted suicide.

Into adulthood, he appeared uneasy after talking to his adopted father, Matt Sandusky's ex-wife, Jill Thomas, said last year. She requested that a judge bar Jerry Sandusky from seeing her children with her former husband within days of their grandfather's arrest.

But throughout the former coach's legal ordeal, Matt Sandusky has remained a largely silent figure. He and his biological mother testified before the investigating grand jury last year.

Amendola, Jerry Sandusky's attorney, insisted during a pretrial hearing earlier this year that all of his client's six adopted children would be willing to vouch for his character at his trial. None was called to testify.

Matt Sandusky, however, did not escape the attention of jurors completely. During testimony last week, the man identified in court documents as Victim 4 recalled an incident in which he, as a young boy, showered in Penn State facilities with the man and his father after a game of racquetball.

Jerry Sandusky pumped a handful of soap from a wall dispenser and began wrestling with the boy, he said. Victim 4 told jurors Matt Sandusky shook his head and left the locker room.


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

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