BELLEFONTE, Pa., June 12 - A sobbing witness in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse trial testified on Tuesday that the former Penn State University football coach befriended him, took him to his house and began to abuse him sexually there.
The 18-year-old, taking the stand on the second day of the highly publicized trial, said he met Sandusky when he was about 10 or 11 through the Second Mile charity Sandusky founded.
Sandusky is accused of using Second Mile, which he opened in 1977, to prey on needy young boys. The former assistant coach faces 52 counts of abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period.
The young man said in Centre County Court that he began spending time at Sandusky’s home in State College after attending charity events for three years.
Sandusky gradually grew more intimate with him until he would kiss him on the lips and blow on his bare stomach when the boy was ready to go to sleep in Sandusky’s basement.
Then one day, “After cracking my back and rubbing his hands down the back of my shorts and blowing on the stomach, he, he put his mouth on my privates,” the man said, holding back sobs as a silent courtroom listened.
“I didn’t know what to do. With all the thoughts running through my head I kind of blacked out, I didn’t want it to happen.”
The witness began to cry and said Sandusky later had forced him to put his mouth on the coach’s genitals.
“He said something along the lines of, ‘It’s your turn,’” the man said, his head bowed.
Sandusky, the former defensive coordinator in Pennsylvania State University’s high-powered football program, sat hunched forward at the defense table, his back to the courtroom. If convicted on all counts, he faces more than 500 years in prison.
The charges put a spotlight on child sexual abuse in the United States and prompted the firing of revered coach Joe Paterno, the winningest college football coach, and university President Graham Spanier in November.
The young man’s account came after a 28-year-old man, another one of the eight alleged victims of Sandusky due to be prosecution witnesses, told jurors on Monday he had kept silent about the scores of times he was abused because he was ashamed.
That witness said he did not want to lose the benefits of being with the well-known coach, including gifts, trips to football bowl games and attention.
But he decided to speak out when he realized that other boys, now men, had been abused as well.
“If I had said something back then they wouldn’t have had this happen to them,” said the witness. He met Sandusky at about age 13 in 1996 or 1997 and testified he was abused sexually for three or four years.
Reuters’ policy is not to identify victims of sexual crimes.
PENN STATE SHOWERS
Prosecutors allege Sandusky had physical contact with the boys he is accused of abusing, known in court documents as Victims 1 to 10, that ranged from tickling and a “soap battle” in Penn State showers to oral and anal sex.
In his opening statement on Monday, prosecutor Joseph McGettigan called Sandusky a “predatory pedophile.” He urged the jury to listen to the witnesses as though they were children.
Handwritten letters allegedly sent by Sandusky to the witness also were placed into evidence by the prosecution.
Joe Amendola, Sandusky’s lawyer, told jurors that Sandusky would tell them about his youth and how taking showers with other people had been common when he was growing up in Washington, Pennsylvania, where his parents ran a recreation center.
Amendola also suggested that the accusers could be out for money, saying that six of the eight men, including Monday’s witness, had hired attorneys.
Media covering the trial have flooded Bellefonte, a small town about 10 miles (16 km) northeast of State College, the university’s home. Dozens of television satellite trucks have surrounded the courthouse and reporters trample the lawn.