Victim, Witness Testify In Sandusky Trial

Jun 13, 2012
Originally published on June 13, 2012 7:00 am
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A jury in central Pennsylvania hears more testimony today in the child sexual abuse trial of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. Testimony from the second day of the trial on Tuesday was by turns emotional and graphic. NPR's Joel Rose was in the courtroom and joins us now.

Joel, good morning.

JOEL ROSE, BYLINE: Good morning.

GREENE: So as I understand it, the day began yesterday with testimony from a young man who we know in court papers as victim no. 1. What did he have to say?

ROSE: Well, this might've been the most emotional moment of the trial so far. Victim no. 1 is a young man. He's only 18 years old. He testified that when he was a younger teenager he met Jerry Sandusky at a summer camp, which is run through the Second Mile, which is a charity Sandusky founded to help at-risk kids.

And victim no. 1 testified that he became friends with Jerry Sandusky and would often spend the night at Sandusky's house, almost like a member of the family. And at this point the young man started to sob on the witness stand, as he testified that Sandusky would kiss him and lie down with him and sometimes force him to engage in sex acts. He said this occurred multiple times in the basement of the Sanduskys' house.

And he also said that Sandusky would sometimes visit him at school and even have him pulled out of his classes so that they could talk. And finally the young man says he told the people at his high school that there was something inappropriate about his relationship with Sandusky and eventually that led to a full-blown investigation by the state police and the attorney general's office.

GREENE: OK. So you were in the courtroom. You hear from victim no. 1. I understand you also heard some pretty graphic testimony from an assistant coach at Penn State, Mike McQueary. What did he have to say?

ROSE: Well, sure. Mike McQueary took the stand after lunch yesterday. And his testimony was similar to testimony he gave a few months ago in a related case against several other Penn State administrators. But it could really be crucial in the Sandusky case as well, because he's an independent witness.

In 2001, Mike McQueary was a graduate assistant at Penn State, which means basically that he was the lowest ranking football coach on the staff there. And McQueary testified that he was coming into work on a Friday night when he stumbled upon Jerry Sandusky and a young boy in the showers in the Penn State locker room.

And McQueary testified that they were both naked and that he saw Sandusky pressed up against the young boy's back, and McQueary said there was no doubt in his mind that Sandusky and the young boy were engaged in a sex act.

GREENE: Well, did Sandusky's defense get to react? Did they get time to cross examine these witnesses?

ROSE: They did. They cross examined both. And Sandusky's attorneys are trying very hard to undermine the credibility of both of these witnesses with the jury. With victim no. 1, Sandusky's lawyers spent a lot of time asking about inconsistencies between the alleged victim's grand jury statements and his testimony in court.

For example, the allege victim initially said there was less sexual contact with Sandusky than he is now saying that there was. And victim no. 1 tried to explain that inconsistency by saying that he was initially scared about talking to the grand jury. But he says that his testimony now is the full truth.

And with Mike McQueary, the defense focused a lot on McQueary's confusion about when the alleged incident took place. McQueary initially told investigators that it happened in 2002. Now, he says it happened in 2001. The defense also asked McQueary some very direct and graphic questions about exactly what he saw with is own eyes, versus what he thought he was seeing.

With both witnesses, the defense has gone out of its way to suggest that these men are both opportunists who are looking to profit down the road in civil cases.

GREENE: And, Joel, really briefly in the few seconds we have left. Do we expect Sandusky himself to take the stand?

ROSE: He could. His lawyers hinted that he might. But it's very risky to put a defendant on the stand when he can be cross examined by prosecutors. So we will see.

GREENE: OK. That NPR's Joel Rose speaking to us about the trial of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. Thanks so much, Joel.

ROSE: Sure. Thank you, David.


GREENE: This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.