Why One Alleged Sandusky Victim Changed His Story
Jerry Sandusky leaned against the wooden courtroom divider, his wrinkled, freckled hands pressed against it at waist level. Balding, his soft white hair parted to the side, the defendant chatted with the half dozen or so friends and family who had shown up again to support him for the third day of his trial. Over the wooden divider, he hugged a middle-aged woman and thanked her for showing up.
“Do you remember her husband?” he asked another one of the supporters, as if catching up at a family picnic.
Picnics. It’s alleged that’s where Sandusky preyed on some of the boys who are now accusing him of molestation. They say Sandusky would walk through water at an area dam, at the Penn State pool, while boys played—at family gatherings, during summer camps with his Second Mile charity. Shirtless, he’d approach from behind, scoop up the children and lift them into the air; they’d rub against his chest, his chest hair pressed against their back.
“To this day, I’m repulsed by chest hair now,” one of the alleged victims testified. “I just remember it pressed up against my back. It just made me hate it.” Sandusky’s hands lingered over the groin, the boys testified. Fatherless, they were lifted into the air by a community’s coaching icon. And just when the boys might have thought something was off: splash. They were under water.
In just three days, Sandusky’s jury has heard testimony regarding six of the 10 boys Sandusky is charged with molesting (two of whom haven’t come forward). And through the testimony, the prosecution is attempting to show a pattern of assault: Sandusky preyed on fatherless, troubled pre-teens. He’d meet them through his charity. Buy them gifts. Take them to football games. They’d sleep in his basement in a spare bedroom, with his wife, Dottie, upstairs. He’d cuddle with them. Shower with them. Wrestle with them. Kiss them on the forehead, the cheek. He’s admitted to that much already, and yesterday in court, the prosecution played that infamous Bob Costas interview.
“Are you sexually attracted to young boys, to underage boys?” Costas asked.
“Am I sexually attracted to underage boys?” Sandusky asked back to Costas.
“Yes,” Bob Costas said.
“Sexually attracted? No, I enjoy young people. I love to be around them. I, I, but no. I am not sexually attracted to young boys,” Sandusky said.
Upon hearing the audio play in the courtroom, the Penn State student juror lifted his eyebrows; his mouth dropped open. He’d been taking notes throughout the day, chewing on the top of a pen like a student in a classroom. Surely he’d heard the interview before, but his expression looked just as every bit surprised. Sandusky’s slow, monotonous voice awkwardly echoed inside the Centre County courthouse. Sandusky sat leaning into his right pointer finger, his watch revealed through his dark coat’s sleeves.
His attorney Joe Amendola successfully poked holes in some of the alleged victim’s time frames. One of the victims changed the date of the alleged molestation by three years. Another significantly changed his story. To the Grand Jury, he had testified that Sandusky hadn’t touched his privates. In court yesterday, he said Sandusky did. “That doorway that I had closed has since been reopening,” he testified. “More things have been coming back, and things have changed since that testimony. Through counseling, I can remember a lot more detail.”
But Mike McQueary’s father, John, could not. Mike McQueary, the graduate assistant football coach who says he saw Sandusky sodomizing a boy in a Penn State locker room shower, testified that he immediately called his dad. John McQueary testified yesterday that his son did not use the words anal sex or sodomy in their conversation. But then during cross-examination, he said he couldn’t remember testifying six months ago to the grand jury. “I was not in that courtroom to my knowledge,” he testified. He was. If the son can’t remember the date of the incident (Mike McQueary flubbed the day by more than a year to authorities), and the father can’t remember testifying six months ago, and the boy from the shower has yet to come forward, Amendola will argue that a jury can’t convict Sandusky, for at least this instance, with no reasonable doubt.
Sandusky left the courthouse yesterday through the white, 15-foot tarp tunnel that runs from the courthouse’s back door and is used to shield the alleged victims when they are dropped off at the courthouse to testify. Sandusky walked through this tunnel, carrying boxes of evidence that says he raped boys. He showed crooked, off-white teeth. He was smiling.