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Sandusky accuser says he screamed for help

7:47 AM, Jun 15, 2012   |    comments
Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky (File Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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BELLEFONTE, Pa. -- Jerry Sandusky's defense against 52 child-sex abuse charges is set to begin Monday.

The last of his alleged victims told jurors Thursday that he once screamed for help when the former Penn State University assistant football coach sodomized him. He said Sandusky repeatedly forced him to perform oral sex during weekend stays at Sandusky's home over a period of nearly four years.

Prosecutors did not formally rest their case Thursday, but Judge John Cleland adjourned the trial until Monday, when Sandusky's attorneys will begin presenting their own witnesses and evidence to challenge four days of often-wrenching testimony from eight alleged victims and witnesses who said they saw assaults of two others.

In opening arguments, defense attorney Joe Amendola signaled that the 68-year-old defendant, a man once revered for his collegiate coaching prowess and devotion to the charity he founded for troubled children, was likely to testify.

The jury appeared to be listening closely to a witness, now 18, who said that shortly after he was introduced to Sandusky's charity, The Second Mile, he was invited to spend the weekend at Sandusky's State College, Pa., home.

"He was a well-known guy," said the witness, explaining why he – fatherless and about 12 at the time – initially wanted to spend time with the coach. "He seemed nice."

Nervously picking at his fingers and a patch covering his right eye because of a recent injury, the witness said his time with Sandusky began with trips to football games and gifts before the coach allegedly began visiting the basement bedroom where the witness slept. He said the coach would begin "rubbing my stomach, cracking my back and kissing me all over."

Describing the first time Sandusky allegedly sodomized him, he said Sandusky "got real aggressive and forced me into it." He said he "screamed" and told him to "get off."

The witness said he believed Sandusky's wife, Dottie, was upstairs.

"No one can hear you down there," he said of the place where other alleged victims testified that they had been assaulted. He said the alleged attacks drew blood, but he never sought medical care.

He said he did not tell his mother. Unaware, she urged him to keep going to the coach's house, he said. Asked why he never alerted anyone, he said, "What could they do? He's an important guy. Who would believe kids?"

The last day he spent at Sandusky's home, the witness said, he called his mother to pick him up "because he was trying to be physical and I had enough of it."

The witness acknowledged on cross-examination that he and his family accepted football tickets from Sandusky at least two years after the alleged assaults. Pressed by Amendola to explain why he would still go with him to games, the witness said, "The only reason I went ... is because I had a friend with me, and if anything ever happened, he would have my back."

Prosecutors asked the witness to formally identify Sandusky, seated just a few yards away. The witness pointed a finger in the coach's direction but said he could not look at him.

Earlier Thursday, a former Penn State University police officer testified that he enlisted the suspicious mother of an alleged victim in a sting operation in 1998 to investigate whether Sandusky had abused her son in a university shower room.

Ronald Schreffler said he and another officer hid in the woman's home and listened as she confronted Sandusky about why he showered with her son. Schreffler said he heard Sandusky say, "I wish I could ask for forgiveness. I know I won't get it from you. I wish I were dead."

The 1998 investigation was the earliest criminal inquiry of abuse allegations against Sandusky. Schreffler said he referred the case to the local district attorney for prosecution, but the district attorney, Ray Gricar, refused it. Gricar disappeared seven years later and has been declared dead.

The alleged victim whose mother confronted Sandusky told jurors Thursday he continued to see Sandusky for years after the shower incident and his mother's confrontation. The witness, now 25, acknowledged sending holiday cards to Sandusky as recently as 2009. The cards included a Thanksgiving greeting that said, "I am glad God has placed you in my life. You are an awesome friend. Love ya."

The witness also said that in 2010, Sandusky lent him his car for a day.

Under a stiff cross-examination, the witness said he was testifying because his "perception had changed as an adult."

"I hadn't thought a lot about the shower incident," the witness said. "That was put out of my mind."

He acknowledged hiring a lawyer, but he said he was seeking "zero" financial gain from his role in the case.

A third alleged victim testified Thursday that on most of the 50 nights he spent at Sandusky's house, the coach would come to the basement bedroom, often bare-chested, and rub the witness's body, blow on his stomach and fondle his penis.

The witness, 25, expressed conflicted feelings for Sandusky because, he said, Sandusky had made him feel like "part of his extended family." The witness described his family life at the time as extremely troubled. "I loved him," he said.

He said his feelings changed after 2001, when he was sent away to a group home and later to foster care.

"I am enraged. I am hurt," he said. "He just forgot about me. I would pray he would call me and find a way to get me out of there."

Now a sergeant in the Army National Guard, the witness said he "wanted nothing to do with this" prosecution when police first contacted him last year.

Prosecutors on Thursday also questioned the lead investigator from the state attorney general's office, who described how he found the alleged victims and got them to testify about what happened.

Anthony Sassano said the task was "daunting" and that it was difficult to get the witnesses to "admit their sexual experiences."

He described an extensive investigation to find alleged victims. Many of them were identified in photographs from albums that officials had seized from Sandusky's home and in brochures from The Second Mile, the coach's charity.

Among the items recovered from Sandusky's home were "camper" lists of Second Mile outings, Sassano said. Some of the names on the lists were highlighted with asterisks or stars, including the names of some of the alleged victims who testified.

Other notations on some of the lists included shoe sizes and clothing sizes for some of the campers, including at least two of the alleged victims.

(USA Today)

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