The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Jerry Sandusky Trial

June 12, 2012

Mike McQueary takes the witness stand in Sandusky case

BELLEFONTE — Former Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary told jurors in Jerry Sandusky's sex abuse trial Tuesday that he saw his ex-colleague with a prepubescent boy in an on-campus shower and that he that he heard "skin-on-skin smacking sound."

His account of the night differed little from his appearance in December at a preliminary hearing for Penn State administrators Tim Curley and Gary Schultz. The one difference: He said the shower encounter took place in 2001 instead of 2002.

But the effect of what he saw, and heard, was unchanged, he said, responding to questions from Senior Deputy Attorney General Joseph McGettigan.

Sandusky is on trial on 52 criminal counts related to the alleged assaults of 10 boys during a 15-year period. Authorities alleged Sandusky abused boys at his home and inside the football team's on-campus facilities among other places.

McQueary told the jury that he was at home, in bed, watching the film "Rudy," when he decided to go to the football team building. He said he walked into the support staff locker room to put away a pair of new sneakers and, as he opened the door, he heard the noise.

"Very much skin-on-skin smacking sound," he said. "I immediately became alert and was kind of embarrassed that I was walking in on something."

He said that he turned and glanced over his right shoulder at a mirror that had a 45-dgree angle and saw Sandusky "standing behind a boy who was propped up against a wall." He estimated the boy to be 10 to 12 years old.

He said that the "boy's hands (were) up on the wall. The glance would have taken only one or two seconds. I immediately turned back to my locker to make sure I saw what I saw."

McQueary said he looked directly into the shower and saw Sandusky "standing right up against the back of a young boy" with his arms around his midsection — "the closest proximity that I think you can be in."

When asked what he saw, McQueary said "the defendant's midsection was moving" subtly.

McQueary said he tried to think and then put his shoes in his locker and slammed it shut, hard.

"I made the loud noise in an attempt to say 'Someone's here! Break it up!'" McQueary said, adding that he stepped closer to the opening of the shower room and saw they were separated and facing him directly.

"We looked directly in each other's eyes and at that time I left the locker room," and went upstairs to his office, he said.

"It was more than my brain could handle," he said. "I was making decisions on the fly. I picked up the phone and called my father to get advice from the person I trusted most in my life, because I just saw something ridiculous."

He said he was very vague with his father on the phone, and that his dad, John, told him to leave immediately and come to the house.

McQueary said he went to coach Joe Paterno's house the next morning and relayed what he had seen, but did not describe the act explicitly out of respect for the coach and his own embarrassment.

He said that Curley called him a week after he talked to Paterno and he attended a meeting with him and Schultz. They "just listened to what I had said," McQueary testified. About week or two later, he said Curley called him to say they had looked into it.

McQueary's testimony came after a teenager told jurors that a school district guidance counselor initially didn't believe his abuse claims because the former Penn State assistant football coach was considered to have "a heart of gold."

The teen, labeled Victim No. 1 by a grand jury, tearfully recounted for jurors repeated instances of abuse, which he said included kissing, fondling and oral sex during sleepovers at the coach's home.

A social worker who spoke to Sandusky about the boy's claims testified that the coach denied having sexual contact with the boy but did acknowledge lying on top of him and blowing "raspberries" on the boy's stomach. The social worker, Jessica Dershem, also said Sandusky told her he couldn't recall whether he had ever touched the boy below his waistline.

The charges against Sandusky — and two university officials accused of perjury and failing to report suspected child abuse — touched off a massive scandal that led to the firing of Paterno and the departure of the university president. Paterno died in January of lung cancer, just over two months after his ouster.

Now 18, the accuser known as Victim 1 recounted an early encounter that escalated to oral sex.

"I spaced," he said. "I didn't know what to do with all the thoughts running through my head, I just kind of blacked out and didn't want it to happen. I froze."

As he choked back tears, the sobbing teen recounted another time Sandusky forced him to perform oral sex, after saying it was his "turn."

"I don't know how to explain it. I froze, like any other time," he said. "My mind is telling me to move but I couldn't do it, I couldn't move."

The witness said he stayed quiet about the abuse, in part because his mother thought Sandusky was a positive influence in his life, but he began trying to distance himself from Sandusky.

At one point Sandusky became angry with him because they'd drifted apart and the teen became involved with his local Big Brothers Big Sisters organization, the teen said.

"I got extremely, extremely scared," he said, recounting how it escalated into an argument between Sandusky and his mother.

Eventually the teen asked his mother if there was a website used to track sex offenders because he wanted to see if Sandusky was on it. That ultimately led to a meeting with the guidance counselor, where he reported being abused.

At first, the counselor didn't believe him and questioned the wisdom of going to authorities, the witness said.

"They said we needed to think about it and he has a heart of gold and he wouldn't do something like that. So they didn't believe me," he said.

School officials referred the case to the county's child-welfare agency.

Dershem, a Clinton County Children & Youth Services caseworker, said the teen was initially uncomfortable talking to her but soon began to open up about his encounters with Sandusky.

She told the jury she had enough evidence by the end of her second meeting with the boy to determine that he had been abused by Sandusky.

He denied sexually assaulting the teen, saying he "he viewed (the boy) as an extended family member, kind of like a son," Dershem said.

During cross-examination, defense attorney Joe Amendola asked the teen whether he had financial motives for bringing his accusations.

The teen denied that. "All I know is I'm here to tell the truth about what happened to me, just like everybody else," he said.

Sandusky didn't visibly react to the teen's account and looked straight ahead during his testimony.

Another of Sandusky's alleged victims testified Monday, the trial's opening day, telling jurors that the coach sent him "creepy love letters." The man said he began showering with Sandusky in 1997 and what started out as "soap battles" quickly escalated to sexual abuse, including oral sex.

Lead prosecutor Joseph McGettigan III has described Sandusky as a "serial predator" who methodically used his youth charity, The Second Mile, to zero in on fatherless children or those with unstable home lives, buy them gifts and take advantage of them sexually.

Amendola has countered that the case is flimsy and that some of the accusers apparently intend to sue and have a financial stake in the case.

 

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Jerry Sandusky Trial
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