BELLEFONTE, Pa. (AP) — Three more accusers took the stand at Jerry Sandusky’s sex-abuse trial Thursday, one of whom said the former Penn State assistant football coach called himself the “tickle monster” before embracing him in a shower and another who said he was forced into sex acts during more than a hundred nights he spent in the ex-coach’s home.
A state investigator also testified that authorities heard about a key witness, assistant coach Mike McQueary, through an anonymous email to Centre County prosecutors. The investigator, Anthony Sassano, said authorities identified some of Jerry Sandusky’s alleged abuse victims through pictures and lists seized from his home and office and that the university was “not very quick” in getting investigators information as part of the probe.
A third alleged victim who testified Thursday said he loved Sandusky and that he viewed him as a father figure, but that he became angry with Sandusky because he never reached out to him after the witness moved away.
The three alleged victims who testified Thursday brought to eight the number of accusers to take the stand over the trial’s first four days. Jurors also heard about two other alleged victims who have not been located by investigators.
The ex-coach faces 52 criminal counts involving alleged assaults of 10 boys over a 15-year span. He denies the charges, which brought disgrace to Penn State and led to the ouster of both the school’s president and Hall of Fame football coach Joe Paterno.
Sandusky’s attorney questioned accusers Thursday about connections they had with other alleged victims. The defense has claimed that the accusers have financial motives, but they’ve all denied that.
After testimony ended Thursday, Judge John Cleland said court would resume on Monday.
“Between now and then, we’ve got three days of temptation. I can’t tell you — although I tried to express it a number of times — how important it is that you not talk, text, tweet, watch televisions, let anybody talk to you about it, share any information — particularly share any opinions about what you think may be going on in the case,” he told jurors. “It’s better to say absolutely nothing.”
Senior Deputy Attorney General Joseph McGettigan told The Associated Press that prosecutors had not yet rested in their case against Sandusky.
The last of the trial’s eight accusers was an 18-year-old who recently graduated from high school. The teen said his mother summoned police to their home to talk to him after Sandusky’s arrest in November 2011.
The accuser said Thursday that he was 11 or 12 when he first met Sandusky in 2004. Sandusky took him to Penn State football games and gave him money and gifts, including a tennis racket and a running suit.
The teen testified that he ended up staying at Sandusky’s home more than 100 times up until 2009, maybe even 150 or so, sleeping in the basement which had a water bed.
The sexual abuse began with oral sex and elevated into anal sex, he said.
“There was no fighting against it,” he said, adding sometimes he would scream and “tell him to get off me.”
During his cross examination, the teenager said he screamed out for help at least once when Sandusky’s wife, Dottie, was in the house, but he did not know if she heard him because he thought the basement was “soundproof.”
“Nobody can hear you down there,” he said.
One of the other men who testified Thursday is now a member of the Army National Guard. He described frequent sleepovers at Sandusky’s home in 1998 and 1999 that included the ex-coach rubbing his body and touching his penis. He also said Sandusky gave him a bear hug in the shower.
The man said he lived with his mother at the time but did not get along with her. He didn’t know where his father was.
He testified that he felt uncomfortable when Sandusky touched his genitals in bed, and that he would roll over to prevent anything else from happening, but that he didn’t tell Sandusky not to get into bed with him.
“He made me feel like I was a part of something, like a family,” the man said. “He gave me things that I hadn’t had before.” He said he loved Sandusky, and that Sandusky treated him like he was part of an extended family who was “unconditionally loved.”
He said he became angry with Sandusky because the ex-coach never reached out to him after the witness was sent out of the area to live in a group home.
“He just forgot about me, like I was nothing,” said the 25-year-old man known in court documents as Victim 3. “I would pray he would call me and maybe find a way to get me out of there … but it never happened.”
Earlier Thursday, another accuser testified that Sandusky called himself the “tickle monster” and embraced the then-11-year-old boy in a Penn State shower in 1998, an encounter that prompted an investigation but ultimately ended without any charges being filed.
The now-25-year-old alleged victim, known in court records as Victim 6, told jurors Sandusky embraced him in a locker room shower, lathered up his back and shoulders then lifted him chest-to-chest to a shower head to rinse out his hair.
The man said the shared shower happened after a brief workout at a campus gym — even though he hadn’t broken a sweat. His mother went to authorities when she saw her son come home with wet hair, although the inquiry spawned by her report didn’t lead to any charges.
The witness, who described himself as a big football fan, testified that Sandusky had given him a tour of the Penn State football locker room and training facilities, and had him try on some equipment of players including star running back Curtis Enis.
One of the investigators who interviewed the boy and Sandusky at the time, Ronald Schreffler, told the court he thought charges were warranted but that the district attorney, Ray Gricar, disagreed.
Gricar cannot explain his decision — he disappeared in 2005 and was later declared legally dead.
On cross-examination, the man testified that in recent years he and Sandusky exchanged text messages, sent notes for holidays and special occasions and last summer met for lunch. He also told the court that Sandusky and his wife, Dottie, had supported a mission trip he took to Mexico.
When asked why he had decided to testify against Sandusky, the witness said he had been approached by investigators and asked to think more about the 1998 encounter.
“As I started to go over it in my mind I quickly realized, my perception changed thinking about it as an adult as opposed to an 11-year-old,” he said. “That was inappropriate, what happened to me.”
Asked if he was looking for financial benefit from coming forward, the man replied, “Zero.”
Schreffler, a former Penn State police officer who now works for the Department of Homeland Security, said he overheard Sandusky tell to alleged victim’s mother that he wished he was dead as investigators listened in on a conversation set up for the woman to confront him.
During his cross-examination, Sandusky’s attorney presented a transcript of an interview with the accuser in which the boy said there was no sexual contact in the shower.
Gricar was last seen April 15, 2005, about nine months before he was to retire as district attorney, after telling his girlfriend he was going for a drive. His car later was found abandoned at an antiques market.
Gricar’s laptop was found three months later in the nearby Susquehanna River, without its hard drive, which was found separately — and upriver — that October. Investigators later said Gricar had done searches on another computer about how to destroy a hard drive, without explaining why that might be relevant to his disappearance.
Sassano, the state investigator, said authorities obtained lists of children that attended events sponsored by Sandusky’s charity, The Second Mile, sending investigators across a wide swath of the State College region to talk to participants. They also poured through Sandusky’s biography, “Touched,” and other documents found in his home and office.
They brainstormed about who else could have been in university buildings during off hours, including janitors and others. Eventually, they issued subpoenas to Penn State.
“Penn State, to be quite frank, was not very quick in getting us our information,” he said.
They talked to assistants and others who worked in some of the buildings and locker rooms at the school.
Sassano also explained how investigators pinned down the year that McQueary saw Sandusky in a shower with a boy.
Prosecutors had initially said the abuse took place in 2002 but later changed the year to 2001.
Sassano said he followed up on McQueary’s recollection that he had been watching the inspirational football movie “Rudy” on TV that night. The investigator bought television guides and determined the film had been on TV during a week in early February 2001 but wasn’t listed during that period in 2002, he said.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)