BELLEFONTE, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - Three more witnesses took the stand on Wednesday to accuse former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky of sexually abusing them - in showers, bedrooms, basements - and in at least one instance using threats and professions of love to keep his actions secret.
“I felt his body on my back and I kept lurching forward, but I didn’t have anywhere to go,” one accuser testified, choking up as he described an incident in a locker room shower on Pennsylvania State’s campus during the summer of 2001. “I just felt his penis on my back.”
The 23-year-old witness, known in court documents as Victim 5, said he first met Sandusky through a summer camp run by Second Mile, a charity founded by Sandusky, and later began a relationship that descended into abuse and shame - a narrative repeated again and again in the first three days of the trial.
The trial is taking place amid a heavy media presence in the small town of Bellefonte, the seat of Centre County, Pennsylvania, not far from State College, where Penn State’s main campus is located.
Since the accusations became public last year, the scandal has shaken Penn State and its long-successful football program, while refocusing the spotlight on the issue of child sexual abuse.
Sandusky, 68, was once known as a top-flight football coach who dedicated himself to his charity. Today, he faces 52 counts of abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period. If convicted on all counts, he faces a sentence of more than 500 years in prison.
Earlier on Wednesday, a witness told jurors that Sandusky performed oral sex on him when he was a boy, then used threats to keep him quiet about the abuse.
The 25-year-old man, dressed in a purple shirt and tie, said he first met Sandusky in 1997 through Second Mile, but began a relationship with him the following year, when he was 11.
He said he had gone to Sandusky’s home in the fall of 1998, and with no one else apparently in the house, the two went to his basement and began wrestling on the floor.
“He kind of pinned me to the ground and pulled my pants down and started performing oral sex on me. I freaked out,” he said, his voice low.
“He told me that if I told anybody I would never see my family again,” said the man, who was living in a foster home at the time and is known in court documents as Victim 10. “I didn’t say anything. Then he apologized for saying that and said he loved me.”
The trial, which started on Monday, is moving at a rapid-fire pace, with a string of witnesses taking the stand and succinctly - sometimes emotionally - detailing charges of abuse at the hands of Sandusky. Judge John Cleland said the prosecution should be able to conclude its case by Friday.
Another witness who testified on Wednesday told jurors he would stay overnight at Sandusky’s home in an upstairs spare bedroom when he was a boy.
The coach, sometimes shirtless and in mesh shorts, would come in as the boy was reading comics before switching out the light and lie next to him, putting his arms around the boy and stroking his nipples and chest, he testified.
“I would say I was ready to go to sleep and he would leave,” said the man, described in court papers as Victim 7. “To this day I’m sort of repulsed by chest hair ... for whatever reason, looking at it, I just hate chest hair.”
Jurors also heard on Wednesday from two other witnesses, both of whom were told by others about the alleged abuse: Ron Petrosky, a school janitor, and John McQueary, the father of former graduate assistant coach Mike McQueary.
Petrosky said he was working in the Lasch Football Building in 2000 when he saw Sandusky leaving the locker room area, holding the hand of a boy while walking down a hallway.
Later, Petrosky testified, another member of the cleaning crew, Jim Calhoun, appeared noticeably shaken and said he had seen something he would never forget.
“He said that Sandusky was holding that boy up, licking on his privates,” Petrosky testified.
Earlier, John McQueary testified that his son was “distraught” when he told him he had witnessed Sandusky molesting a boy in the same locker room in January 2001.
The elder McQueary said his son called him directly after seeing the incident. “His description to me was a slapping, rhythmic kind of thrusting, slapping sound,” John McQueary said. That is similar to the description of the incident Mike McQueary provided to the court on Tuesday.
John McQueary said he and his son agreed the incident should be reported.
“We determined that it was imperative to report this to the authorities at Penn State,” John McQueary said. They agreed to report it to head football coach Joe Paterno.
Paterno, who holds the record for the most wins among major U.S. college football coaches, was later fired by the board for his handling of the matter. He died of lung cancer in January.
Reuters’ policy is not to identify victims of sexual crimes.
(Editor’s Note: Please be advised that this story contains content of a sexual nature)
Editing by Paul Thomasch, Eric Walsh and Mohammad Zargham