Week 1 of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse trial concluded Thursday afternoon with the prosecution offering two of its most powerful witnesses.
A recent high school graduate told of being repeatedly sodomized by Sandusky, and the lead investigator for the state offered more evidence suggesting the former Penn State assistant football coach was using a charitable foundation to target his alleged victims.
While the prosecution did not technically rest, its case appears to be complete. With the trial flying by, Judge John Cleland cancelled Friday's scheduled session and told jurors to return to the Centre County Courthouse Monday morning.
They'll have plenty to think about over the weekend, as Thursday's final witness — so-called Victim 9 — provided the trial's most explicit testimony yet. He said after a multiple-year period from the time he was 12 to about 16, he stayed at Sandusky's house practically every weekend. In a basement bedroom with a waterbed, he testified, Sandusky forced him to perform oral sex and to later have anal sex.
His shouts for help went unheard, he said, even when Sandusky's wife was upstairs. He later said he believed the basement was soundproof.
What was I gonna do? the witness said, nodding toward Sandusky at the defense table. Look at him. He's a big guy. He was bigger than me at the time. Way bigger.
The witness, now 18, estimated he was 5-foot, 67 pounds the first time an alleged assault took place. Raised in a single-parent home, he said he was ashamed to tell his mother what was happening as the alleged assaults continued.
How do you tell your mom something like that? he said.
The witness held his composure during most of the testimony. There were a few pauses and a tear or two, but he generally plowed through even the most difficult questions. He was wearing a bandage on the right side of his face due to what he called an eye abrasion.
The relationship with Sandusky ended, he said, when he grew balls and refused to go to Sandusky's house anymore.
He was not among the eight original alleged victims in the case.
The witness said he was not keeping track of the case as it unfolded in the past year, even after Sandusky was arrested in early November. When that happened, his mother called the police, and they showed up at the family home to question the witness. After initially downplaying the alleged sexual nature of the relationship, the witness later told a grand jury of the alleged assaults.
That led to more charges being filed against Sandusky in December.
Under cross-examination, the witness testified that he and his family still received Penn State football tickets from Sandusky in recent years, but that he was never alone with the former coach.
At the end of direct examination, prosecutor Joe McGettigan asked the witness to point out the man who abused him. The witness paused.
I don't want to look at him, he said.
McGettigan pressed. The witness finally looked toward the defendant, pointed and said, Jerry Sandusky.
Agent attempts to connect the dots
Earlier, Anthony Sassano, the agent who led the two-and-a-half year investigation for Pennsylvania's Attorney General's office, recapped how his work unfolded. In doing so, he presented documents that appeared to indicate obsessive behavior on Sandusky's part toward some of the alleged victims and perhaps evidence that his Second Mile charity was used to target alleged victims.
Search warrants on Sandusky's home and on-campus office turned up mounds of documents and photographs, some of which came back to haunt him in this case. The prosecution used Sandusky's own photographs to identify potential victims and to show the jury how interested he was in specific boys.
For example, there were dozens of snap shots of so-called Victim 4, who was allegedly abused by Sandusky for four years.
Among the documents were lists of participants in Second Mile summer camps. The entire courtroom was spellbound as the prosecution showed different pages from those lists on a giant screen. From a full page of names and addresses, they would zoom in on specific names.
The zooms revealed handwritten marks — asterisks, dashes and even notations (including phone numbers, mothers' names and more) — next to the names of alleged victims in the case.
Victim 9 had a double asterisks next to his name on the 2005 camp roster. On another page, his mother's name and phone number were written out.
Sassano was asked about that alleged victim by name, and why he was significant.
He's testifying next, the agent said.
The defense case is expected to begin Monday.
Criticism of Penn State
When he took the stand, Sassano was asked to give his background. A veteran of 12 years with the AG's office and two decades on the police force in Altoona, Pa., he was clearly a courtroom veteran.
Sassano was at ease on the stand and spoke so loudly he hardly need a microphone.
While introducing himself, he said he was a "1975 graduate of THE Penn State University."
As it turns out, a Penn State graduate conducted the investigating that uncovered one of the biggest scandals in sports history.
Sassano didn't exactly go easy on his alma mater when he was on the stand, though. When asked about the university's cooperation with the investigation, he said, "Penn State, to be quite frank, was not very quick in getting us information."
FROM THE MORNING SESSION
BELLEFONTE, Pa. Two men who admitted they loved former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky when they were boys took the stand against him here Thursday. They both have much different opinions of Sandusky today.
In the fourth day of Sandusky's fast-moving trial, one alleged victim said, I'm mad, I'm enraged, I'm hurt. Another stated, I feel violated.
Before taking an extended break for lunch, Judge John Cleland said the prosecution intended to wrap its case against Sandusky by day's end. That is well in advanced of the two weeks the judge originally anticipated for the state's case.
The morning session included testimony from two more alleged victims in the case. Both men are now 25.
The man identified by the prosecution as Victim 3 is a member of the National Guard who served a recent year-long tour of duty in Iraq. He said he stayed at Sandusky's house more than 50 times between 1999 and 2001, sleeping on a waterbed in a basement bedroom. There, he testified, Sandusky would often sleep with him, rubbing his body, kissing him and even touching his genitals.
He endured the alleged behavior, he said, because Sandusky, made me feel like I was part of something, a family. He gave me things I never had before. I didn't want to give it up.
He was asked if he liked Sandusky back then.
I loved him, the witness said.
The witness said the relationship ended when he was put into a group home for troubled children. He never heard from Sandusky after that.
Asked for his opinion on Sandusky today, he replied, I'm mad, I'm enraged, I'm hurt. He could just forget me, like I was nothing, when I was sent way.
"I would pray he would call me," he witness continued. "[Maybe] find a way to get me out of there; adopt me or something."
An earlier witness, so-called Victim 6, went into detail about only one alleged incident with Sandusky. He said he had all but erased it from his memory, even though at the time police and social workers were called in to investigate the situation.
He said in 1998, Sandusky picked him up at his house and took him to work out in the Penn State football weight room. Afterward, they showered together, he stated.
The witness continued that during the shower, Sandusky picked him up from behind and gave him a bear hug. They were both naked. Later, he said, Sandusky picked him up to wash the soap from his hair.
He admitted to being uncomfortable at the time but said he was not overly upset.
When Sandusky took him home, he added, he told his mother of the shower. Against her son's wishes, she called the authorities.
I felt that I did something wrong, the witness said.
Though police and Children & Youth Services investigated even setting up secret surveillance when the mother met Sandusky at her house on two occasions no charges were filed.
The Penn State police officer investigating the case at the time, Ronald Schreffler, recalled Sandusky breaking down in the second conversation with the mother.
From the stand Thursday, Schreffler paraphrased Sandusky as telling the woman, I wish I could ask for forgiveness. I know I will not get it. I wish I were dead.
Schreffler said he wanted to press charges but the district attorney declined to do so.
The case went away. And Victim 6 said he all but forgot the alleged inappropriate incident with Sandusky, even though he remained close to Sandusky's family through 2009. Through that year, he visited the house frequently and even borrowed Sandusky's car.
The defense revealed 2009 emails from the witness to Sandusky. One said, I'm glad God has placed you in my life. You are an awesome friend. Love (alleged victim's name). The other said, Hey Jerry, just wanted to wish you a happy Father's Day. Great things are yet to come.
Asked to reconcile those notes with his current accusations, the bible school graduate said, As I started to go over it in my mind, I quickly realized my perspective changed thinking about it as an adult.
He later added, I feel violated. I've gone through an emotional roller coaster.