(Note: explicit sexual content)
By Ian Simpson
BELLEFONTE, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - The final alleged victim to testify in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse trial told jurors on Thursday the former Penn State University assistant football coach sodomized him as a boy in the basement of Sandusky’s home as he screamed in vain for help.
His account provided a dramatic bookend to the prosecution’s presentation of graphic testimony over 3-1/2 days in the closely watched trial in Pennsylvania from eight men who described being sexually abused as young boys by Sandusky.
The latest witness, now 18, spoke quietly with his head down as prosecutor Joseph McGettigan questioned him. The witness said Sandusky forced him to have anal sex home “a few times” in the basement of the coach’s house. Sometimes he would scream, at least once when Sandusky’s wife was in the house, but no one ever responded, the man said.
“No one can hear you down there,” he said in the hushed courtroom, his head hanging. He said he had bled from the attacks, but his mother had never noticed blood on his clothing.
Following the man’s testimony and cross examination in Centre County Court in rural Pennsylvania, Judge John Cleland recessed the trial until Monday, when it is expected that the defense will begin presenting its case.
Sandusky, 68, faces 52 counts of sexually abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period. Two of the boys have not been identified. If convicted on all counts, the former defensive coordinator for Pennsylvania State University’s successful football program faces a sentence of more than 500 years in prison.
Earlier on Thursday, jurors heard from two other men who also accused Sandusky of molesting them and from a university campus detective who recalled Sandusky saying “I wish I were dead” after being confronted by an alleged victim’s mother about showering with her son.
Sandusky, who retired from Penn State in 1999, is accused of meeting his alleged victims through the Second Mile charity for needy boys that he founded in 1977.
The final witness on Thursday said he performed oral sex on Sandusky almost every time he stayed overnight, sleeping all but one time on a water-bed in the basement. Asked why he did not resist when Sandusky forced him to perform oral sex, he said, “What was I going to do? He’s a big guy, way bigger than me.”
Like many of the alleged victims, the man came from a broken home. When he met Sandusky, he was living in a trailer with his mother, who was working in a bar, and the father was not around. He later spent time in a foster home. He said he never told his anyone about the abuse, including his mother, saying, “How can you tell your mom about it?”
The white-haired Sandusky, dressed in a dark sport coat and slacks, stared at the man throughout the testimony. Asked by McGettigan to indicate Sandusky, the man turned his head and pointed a finger at him. When McGettigan told him to look at Sandusky, he said: “I don’t want to look at him.”
The day’s first witness was a 25-year-old man who said Sandusky bear-hugged him in a shower when he was a young boy and lifted him to rinse shampoo out of his hair, after which his memory of the event ends. “It’s all black,” he told jurors said.
Another 25-year-old man also told of showering with Sandusky as a young boy, sleeping at Sandusky’s home and trying to “get away from him” when he touched his penis.
Also testifying was Ronald Schreffler, a former Penn State campus detective who investigated one of the incidents and said he told Sandusky he should not shower with boys. No charges were brought against Sandusky at the time.
The case, which has focused fresh attention in the United States to the issue of child sexual abuse, prompted the firing of university President Graham Spanier and head football coach Joe Paterno, record-holder for most wins by a major U.S. college football coach. Paterno died of lung cancer in January.
The first witness of the day said he met Sandusky in 1998 when he was 11 years old at a picnic hosted by the Second Mile. Sandusky invited him to work out at a Penn State campus gym, which was deserted when they went there late in the day, the man testified. The two wrestled and lifted weights for about 15 minutes and Sandusky told him it was time to shower, he said.
In the shower, Sandusky grabbed him from behind and said playfully, “I‘m going to squeeze your guts out” and bear-hugged him, the man testified haltingly.
Sandusky lifted him to rinse shampoo out of his hair, he said. “That’s the last thing I remember about being in the shower. It’s all black,” said the man, identified in court documents as Victim 6.
The boy’s mother reported the incident to university police and it was investigated but no charges were filed.
The man testified that he had continued to have contact with Sandusky. When defense attorney Joe Amendola asked the witness, “Did the change in your attitude have anything to do with hiring an attorney and thinking that there might be some financial gain for you?,” the man answered: “Zero.”
‘I WISH I WERE DEAD’
Schreffler, who investigated the incident, said that in agreement with the boy’s mother he and another officer eavesdropped on her when she confronted Sandusky about it.
“During the course of the conversation, Mr. Sandusky made the statement, ‘I wish I could get forgiveness, I know I won’t get it from you. I wish I were dead,'” Schreffler testified.
He said he and an investigator for the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare met Sandusky, and Schreffler told him he should not shower with boys again. Sandusky agreed and said he had used “bad judgment,” Schreffler said.
The seventh alleged victim to testify said that he had slept overnight at Sandusky’s house about 50 times over a three-year period from 1998 to 2001. He said he had met Sandusky at a Second Mile event.
The witness said he slept all but one time in the basement and the coach often would get into bed with him and tickle, blow on his stomach, kiss his shoulders and sometimes touched his penis, giving him an erection.
“At that point I would roll over and try to get away from him. I knew I wasn’t supposed to have one in front of a man,” said the man, known in court documents as Victim 3.
He also went to work out at Penn State with Sandusky a few times. They showered together, and the coach bear-hugged him from front and back and soaped him, including on his buttocks, he said.
Reuters’ policy is not to identify victims of sexual crimes.
Additional reporting by Matt Morgan; Editing by Dan Burns and Will Dunham