BELLEFONTE, Pa. - Jerry Sandusky’s trial in the Penn State scandal opened in graphic fashion Monday with the first witness testifying that the retired coach molested him in the locker-room showers and in hotels while trying to ensure his silence with gifts and trips to bowl games.
The man, now 28 and dubbed Victim 4 in court papers, left nothing to the imagination as he told the jury about the abuse he said he endured for five years beginning when he was a teenager in the late 1990s. “I’ve denied it forever,’’ he testified, looking straight at the prosecutor as Sandusky sat motionless nearby.
Sandusky, 68, faces 52 counts that he sexually abused 10 boys over 15 years. The former assistant football coach has denied the allegations. His arrest last year shamed the university and led to the ouster of beloved Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno and Penn State’s president.
In opening statements, prosecutor Joseph McGettigan III told the jury that Sandusky was a “predatory pedophile’’ who methodically used his youth charity, The Second Mile, to zero in on fatherless children or those with unstable home lives, plied them with gifts, and took advantage of them sexually.
Sandusky lawyer Joe Amendola countered that the case is flimsy and that some of the accusers apparently intend to sue and have a financial stake in the case. Victim 4 spoke calmly and firmly under questioning by the prosecutor.
In the car, Sandusky “would put his hand on my leg, basically like I was his girlfriend . . . It freaked me out extremely bad,’’ the man said, extending his arm and pushing it back and forth. “I pushed it away . . . After a little while, it would come right back. That drove me nuts.’’
The man said he met Sandusky through The Second Mile and that they began showering together in 1997. What began as “soap battles’’ quickly progressed to oral sex and other contact, the accuser said, adding that he was 90 or 100 pounds and powerless to resist the advances of the much larger man.
According to the witness, Sandusky tried assaulting him in a hotel bathroom before a bowl banquet in Texas and threatened to send him home when he resisted, warning: “You don’t want to go back, do you?’’ Sandusky stopped only when his wife, Dottie, called out from another room, the witness said.
Eventually, as the man got older and had a girlfriend, he became “basically sick of what was happening to me’’ and distanced himself from Sandusky. They had not spoken since 2002 when, in 2010, he took his girlfriend and 3-year-old son to visit the Sanduskys in what he said was an attempt to convince his girlfriend her suspicions about Sandusky were not true. He said that “backfired’’ when Sandusky gave him a lot of attention and tried to rub his shoulders.