BELLEFONTE, Pa. — Jurors in Jerry Sandusky‘s case were told Thursday the trial would not resume until next week after prosecutors finished calling to the stand eight young men who claimed the former Penn State assistant coach sexually abused them when they were children.
Sandusky’s trial on 52 criminal counts has moved more quickly than many observers have expected, and his lawyers could begin to put on their witnesses as early as Monday. There are two alleged victims who have never been identified.
Testimony on Thursday included three more accusers, including a young man who claimed the 68-year-old Sandusky raped him as a teen guest in Sandusky’s basement.
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That witness, now 18, told jurors his abuse began with fondling and forced oral sex and led to several instances of rape in Sandusky’s State College home, where he spent more than 100 nights and where his muffled screams went unanswered by Sandusky’s wife, Dottie, who was upstairs.
He said he figured the basement must be soundproof.
“He got real aggressive, and just forced me into it,” he said. “And I just went with it – there was no fighting against it.”
Under cross-examination by Sandusky lawyer Joe Amendola, he said the attacks sometimes left him bleeding, but that he never sought medical attention.
“I just dealt with it,” he said.
Described as Victim 9 in court records, he became known to investigators after Sandusky was first arrested in November and his mother summoned police to their home. He said he didn’t want to talk to them at first.
“Who would believe kids?” he said.
A few weeks later, Sandusky was charged with two counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and other offenses in his case, among the most serious set of the charges Sandusky has denied and is fighting.
A third accuser, known as Victim 3, was an Army National Guard sergeant who testified Thursday that despite being fondled by Sandusky, he had viewed him as a father figure and was crushed when he was sent to a group home and Sandusky never contacted him again.
“I would pray he would call me and maybe find a way to get me out of there,” he said, “but it never happened.”
He testified that he felt uncomfortable when Sandusky touched his genitals in bed, and that he would roll over to prevent anything else from happening, but that he didn’t tell Sandusky not to get into bed with him.
“He made me feel like I was a part of something, like a family,” the man said. “He gave me things that I hadn’t had before.” He said that he loved Sandusky, and that Sandusky treated him like he was part of an extended family and felt “unconditionally loved.”
Sandusky’s arrest brought disgrace to Penn State and led to the ouster of both the school’s president and Hall of Fame football coach Joe Paterno.
Sandusky’s attorney questioned accusers about connections they had with other alleged victims. The defense has claimed that the accusers have financial motives, although several have said that police contacted them and that they expressed their reluctance to get involved.
Earlier in the day, an accuser called Victim 6 testified that Sandusky described himself as a “tickle monster” and embraced the then-11-year-old boy in a Penn State shower in 1998, an encounter that prompted an investigation but ended without any charges filed.
Now 25, he told jurors Sandusky embraced him in a locker room shower, lathered up his back and shoulders then lifted him chest-to-chest to a shower head to rinse out his hair.
The man said the shared shower happened after a brief workout at a campus gym, even though he hadn’t broken a sweat. His mother went to authorities when she saw her son come home with wet hair, although the inquiry spawned by her report didn’t lead to any charges.
The witness, who described himself as a big football fan, testified that Sandusky showed him Penn State football facilities and let him try on players’ equipment.
One of the investigators who interviewed the boy and Sandusky at the time, Ronald Schreffler, told the court that he thought charges were warranted but that the district attorney, Ray Gricar, disagreed.
Gricar cannot explain his decision; he disappeared in 2005 and was later declared legally dead.
On cross-examination, the man testified that in recent years he and Sandusky exchanged text messages, sent notes for holidays and special occasions and last summer met for lunch. He also told the court that Sandusky and his wife had supported a mission trip he took to Mexico.
“As I started to go over it in my mind I quickly realized, my perception changed thinking about it as an adult as opposed to an 11-year-old,” he said. “That was inappropriate, what happened to me.”
Asked whether he was looking for financial benefit from coming forward, the man replied, “Zero.”
Also testifying was Anthony Sassano, an investigator with the attorney general’s office who disclosed that officials learned of a key witness, Mike McQueary, after an anonymous letter was sent to Centre County prosecutors.
Sassano said authorities obtained lists of children who attended events sponsored by Sandusky’s charity, The Second Mile, sending investigators across a wide swath of the State College region to talk to participants. They also poured through Sandusky’s biography, “Touched,” and other documents found in his home and office.
They brainstormed about who else could have been in university buildings during off hours, including janitors and others. Eventually, they issued subpoenas to Penn State.
“Penn State, to be quite frank, was not very quick in getting us our information,” he said.