Monday, June 18, 2012

Sandusky Trial Brings the Horrors of Child Sexual Abuse Into Our Living Rooms

Jerry Sandusky

The first week of the Jerry Sandusky trial reminded me of Anita Hill's testimony at the confirmation hearings for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

When Hill raised her right hand on October 11, 1991, most Americans had no clue about the sights and sounds that can come with a case of alleged sexual harassment in the workplace. By the time Hill's testimony ended two days later, Americans had heard about a pubic hair on a Coke can and a porn actor named "Long Dong Silver."

We had cases of child sexual abuse before Jerry Sandusky became known to more than just hard-core Penn State football fans. But I don't recall another case where the nauseating details have been brought to so many newspaper pages, TV newscasts, and computer screens. As I checked for updates each day at and, I was tempted to make sure I had a vomit bag nearby.

That's saying something because I've become a bit numb to the horrors of child sexual abuse. Why?  Well, I've been investigating a case of alleged child sexual abuse off and on for the past eight months or so. The story is not quite ready for publication, but my research has produced compelling evidence that the abuse was real. And it is deeply disturbing, in part because I have come to know a number of people who have been impacted by it.

In fact, the story I've been investigating has similarities to the Sandusky case. Both appear to have originated in the early to mid 1990s. In both, a state investigation was launched only to see no action taken against the alleged perpetrator. In both, records indicate one or more children wound up suffering terribly because public officials failed them the first time around.

Some of the details in the case I am researching are more sickening than anything revealed so far in the Sandusky case. That's saying something because reading about the Sandusky trial makes you want to take a leisurely trip through a heavy-duty car wash--with no car.

Maureen Dowd, of The New York Times, provides a sobering summary in a piece titled "American Horror Story." It provides deep insights into the methods that abusers use to manipulate their victims:

The prosecution charges that Mr. Sandusky used his charity for disadvantaged kids, Second Mile, as a perverted recruiting tool, putting asterisks next to the names of boys who were fatherless and blond, making up weird contracts for boys to sign, giving them money, ostensibly for doing good schoolwork, but really as a way to keep them from fleeing -- and telling. 
Like pedophile priests, Mr. Sandusky was especially vile because he targeted vulnerable boys. Later, when victims finally spoke up, there was a built-in defense: Those boys were trouble; you can't believe them.

Each day of the Sandusky trial has produced platefuls of stomach-churning moments. The prosecution is expected to rest its case today, and then Sandusky's defense will begin. It is unclear when the case might go to the jury. Let's consider some of the "highlights" so far:

From Day One (Monday, June 11), we have an account from about Alleged Victim 4 and his cross-examination by defense attorney Joseph Amendola:

Amendola pressed the man on the shower facilities at Penn State's football facility, asking if any players or coaches entered when something inappropriate was happening between him and Sandusky. 
The man said no coaches or players ever witnessed anything inappropriate, but estimated that something inappropriate had happened with Sandusky "probably 50 times."

From Day Two (Tuesday, June 12), we have an account from about the testimony of former Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary:

A former Penn State assistant coach who was a central figure in Joe Paterno's downfall testified Tuesday that he heard a "skin-on-skin smacking sound" in a campus locker room one night in 2001 and saw something that was "more than my brain could handle." 
Jerry Sandusky was standing naked in the showers behind a boy, slowly moving his hips, Mike McQueary told the jury. 
McQueary, one of the star witnesses in the child sexual abuse case against Sandusky, said he had no doubt he was witnessing anal sex. He testified that he slammed his locker shut loudly as if to say, "Someone's here! Break it up!"

From Day Three (Wednesday, June 13), we have an account from about the testimony of a man who worked with a former Penn State janitor:

Judge John Cleland ruled that a co-worker of Penn State janitor Jim Calhoun could testify about what Calhoun told him in November 2000. Calhoun is now suffering from dementia. 
The co-worker, Ron "Buck" Petrosky, said that when he encountered Calhoun in a football team locker room, the janitor told him he had seen Sandusky -- he didn't realize Sandusky was a famous coach -- making a boy perform oral sex on him. Petrosky said Calhoun's face was white, his hands were trembling and he was in tears. 
"He said, 'Buck, I just witnessed something in there I'll never forget the rest of my life . . .  that man that just left, he had the boy up against the shower wall, licking on (him),' " Petrosky testified.

Finally, from Day Four (Thursday, June 14), we have an account from about the testimony of Alleged Victim 9:

Former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky regularly forced him to have oral sex and repeatedly sodomized him, an 18-year-old man told a Centre County jury this afternoon. 
The alleged attacks occurred during several years when he slept over in a basement bedroom of Sandusky's College Township home, alleged Victim 9, a recent high school graduate, testified during the fourth day of Sandusky's trial.

Details such as those, I suspect, will remain in the public consciousness long after a verdict is rendered in the Sandusky case.

I know from personal experience that once you've heard the details about child sexual abuse, they are impossible to forget.


Anonymous said...

I know we should not go on looks, but if creepy looks make you a predator.. GUILTY. He looks creepy to me. IF it is true.. Those men are going to have years of therapy. I had all my growing up life of physical and mental abuse and it has been hard enough to overcome that.I probably would have committed suicide if I had sexual abuse. This is sad. But I don't know but I do not think he will see a day in prison. FOOTBALL IS PEOPLE'S GOD! I just think because he was involved in Penn State he will slip through the cracks. Wonder why it took so long to bring this story to the surface?x

legalschnauzer said...


I suspect the public does not want to believe a "reputable man" would do this. A victim came forward with what appears to have been a pretty strong case against Sandusky back in 97-98, but the state refused to press it.

Anonymous said...

and the investigator for that report from 1998 was found dead and his computer in the lake with the hard drive removed too. Does this even interest anyone as whether this man was murdered because he had evidence of sexual abuse by Sandusky?

jeffrey spruill said...

I vaguely recall hearing or reading something about an investigator being found dead--but did not know about his computer in the lake with the hard drive removed.

Certainly sounds as if Penn State's football program was more valuable than innocent children's lives being disrupted by a monsters sexual assaults/perversions.

legalschnauzer said...

For those interested in learning more about the DA who disappeared, here is an excellent piece from (5/12) and Sara Ganim, who has done groundbreaking reporting on the Sandusky case:

legalschnauzer said...

Another very good piece on Ray Gricar, this one from Deadspin (5/12):

choggs said...

I beleive a book just came out titled "Game Over" on the penn state scandal

legalschnauzer said...

I'm guessing there will be a number of books coming out of this--probably some not so hot, some very good. I've read that 1-2 books might be in the works just about the DA's disappearance. And I'm guessing there will be more than one book just about Joe Paterno's last days, and how all of this has affected Nittany Lions football.

Anonymous said...

single mothers with young children/boys are often targeted by pedophiles with a purpose. Single moms always have to leave their children alone or unattended because the minimum wages they earn do not afford them the luxury of paid caregivers while they are away. If our judges and family lawyers could take this into consideration along with all the other changes in the lives of divorced children, they would assess more than ten percent of the father's income to the children as child support. The people who suffer in divorce are the mothers and the children. The fathers are taken care of by the court; they can go out and date, and marry again and take of another new family while their young children get taken advantage of by predators and pedophiles. Judges, lawyers and Deadbeat fathers who cheat the mothers and children should have to answer for these crimes also. Why don't we put some of these absentee fathers on the stand and hold them accountable as well?

Anonymous said...

some pedophiles go so far as to date and marry the single moms of young boys just for the purpose of their own sick, sexual gratification.

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 1:35:

I think the scenario you describe might be present in the case I am researching.