(BELLEFONTE, Pa.) — A young boy growing up in State College, Pa., who idolized the Penn State football team said on Thursday that the day he got to try on football helmets and shoulder pads from the star players, ones that “were huge for me, would just sort of float around,” was a thrilling day — until assistant coach Jerry Sandusky asked him to take a shower.
The man, now 24, said in court on Thursday that Sandusky bear-hugged him, tickled him, called himself the “tickle monster” and lifted him up in the shower saying he was going to “squeeze (the boy’s) guts out.”
The shower made him “uncomfortable,” but the memory of what happened stopped there. The man, identified as Victim 6, said he “blacked out” when Sandusky lifted him up in the shower, and he could not remember exactly what happened next.
“Then he had his hands around my waist and lifted me up to the shower head to get the soap out of my hair. I believe my chest was to his chest,” he said. “I don’t think it was touching but I remember going into the shower head and having to close my eyes so soap wouldn’t go in, and that’s the last thing I remember about being in the shower. That’s the best recollection I’ve got.”
“I don’t even remember being put down,” he said. “Everything else is just blacked out. I don’t remember any more.”
The episode became the linchpin for the first criminal investigation of Sandusky as a child sex abuser, launched in 1998 when the man’s mother called Penn State campus police to report that a staff member had been inappropriately showering with her son. That investigation came close to an arrest for Sandusky, according to testimony by the lead investigator, Ronald Scheffler, who worked as a criminal investigator for the university police.
Scheffler said that he interviewed Sandusky about the incident, and Sandusky admitted that he had showered with many children. But Scheffler never followed up to see how many, what activities had gone on in the shower, or how old the children were. Scheffler told prosecutor Joseph McGettigan that he believed there was enough to charge Sandusky, but district attorney Ray Gricar decided not to prosecute.
It would be 10 more years, and at least half a dozen other alleged victims, until Sandusky would be investigated once again, finally resulting in 52 counts of child sex abuse charges when he was arrested in November 2011. He now faces life in prison if convicted.
The episode with Victim 6 was quickly pulled apart by Sandusky’s defense attorney, Joseph Amendola, who noted that though Victim 6 said he did not remember what happened in the shower, he told Scheffler in the days immediately following the incident that he was sure Sandusky never touched him sexually or asked the boy to touch Sandusky sexually.
“I could sort of feel like he kissed me once or twice on the head, like you would kiss your child, you know what I mean,” the boy said in the transcript.
“Like you would kiss a child,” Amendola repeated.
Amendola stressed that Gricar, a veteran prosecutor, decided not press charges because there was no evidence of sexual abuse, to which Scheffler conceded the point. Gricar disappeared without a trace in 2005, and so could not shed light on why he decided not press charges against Sandusky in 1998.
Amendola also had Victim 6 read aloud text messages he sent to Sandusky as recently as 2009, wishing him a happy Father’s Day and telling him on Thanksgiving that he was grateful God placed Sandusky in the boy’s life. The man also visited with Sandusky as recently as summer, 2011, when he went out to lunch with him.
Though Amendola made some head way in his attempt to show that the eight alleged victims may have misinterpreted Sandusky’s overly affectionate behavior as sexual, the boy’s account closely echoed that of other witnesses who say that showering, bear-hugs, and shampooing led to aggressive sexual activity.
The testimony also echoed the statements of five earlier witnesses in another way, as each of them said that although they were touched inappropriately or sexually molested by Sandusky, they were so enamored with his status as a Penn State coach who could bring them to games and give them access to players that they kept quiet.
“I think I introduced myself to him because I was real excited to meet him. I grew up in a Penn State fan house, my sister went there, I followed the program. Anything to do with Penn State I just wanted to be a part of it. I was a huge football fan then,” Victim 6 said.
“I tried to get out of his grasp but at the same time be in a joking manner with him so I wouldn’t make him upset,” the man said.
Two more alleged victims, those known as Victim 3 and Victim 9, are still expected to testify.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
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