The most searing images from the child sexual abuse case of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky involved acts that took place in university locker room facilities.
But a new report states that Sandusky's adopted son was prepared to testify that the coach had sexually abused him in the home. That reminds us of Ted Rollins, the CEO of Campus Crest Communities who was convicted in the mid 1990s for assaulting his stepson and investigated on a complaint of child sexual abuse involving the same child.
No substantive actions were taken against Ted Rollins after the child sexual abuse complaint was filed, much as an investigation against Sandusky in the 1990s resulted in no sanctions. But the Rollins story--plus the most recent news about Sandusky--drives home what appears to be a general truth about such cases: The home is by far the most likely place for abuse to happen.
In fact, the threat that Sandusky's adopted son might testify about abuse in the home probably was the defining factor in the most watched criminal case of 2012. Trial transcripts show the threat prompted Jerry Sandusky to not testify in his own defense. From a report at espn.com:
Jerry Sandusky reversed course and decided not to take the witness stand after his adopted son came forward and told prosecutors the former Penn State assistant football coach had abused him, documents show.
Trial transcripts posted online Friday offer a glimpse into Sandusky's decision to remain silent during his child sex-abuse trial.
Matt Sandusky, whom the defense had planned to call as a witness, abruptly switched sides late in the trial, approaching prosecutors and offering to testify that he had suffered abuse at the hands of his father, the transcript shows.
Is it possible that Jerry Sandusky would have been acquitted if he had chosen to testify? It's hard to say, but it appears the threat that his son would testify about abuse in the home cinched a conviction:
Prosecutors planned to call Matt as a rebuttal witness if Jerry Sandusky testified in his own defense, the transcript shows. They later backed off, but wouldn't agree to a defense request to refrain from asking Sandusky about his son's claims on cross examination.
"Mr. Sandusky had always wanted to testify on his own behalf. He always wanted to tell people his side to the allegations in this case," defense lawyer Joe Amendola said during a private conference in judge's chambers. "However, that potential evidence, whether true or not, was so devastating" that Sandusky felt he could not run the risk of testifying and subjecting himself to questions about Matt, he continued.
As for Ted Rollins, we know he was convicted for severely beating his stepson in 1995--and that event took place in the home. We also know that two years earlier, Rollins had been investigated for the possible child sexual abuse of the same child--and that apparently involved events in the home.
Perhaps the most powerful lesson from the Sandusky and Rollins cases is this: In the 1990s, authorities and society in general tended to act cautiously when allegations of abuse were brought against men in powerful positions. But some two decades later, we now seem inclined to take these matters with a heightened sense of alarm.
For all the stomach-churning qualities about testimony showing Jerry Sandusky abused boys in Penn State showers, we also know this: Abuse is much more likely to take place in the home than in a public place--and that's one reason it's often difficult for victims to ever achieve justice.