It took years for investigators to gather enough evidence to charge Jerry Sandusky with multiple counts of child rape, but it only took the prosecutors four days to present their case against him.
Yesterday the prosecutors presented the last three young men accusing Sandusky of child rape. Victims 3, 6, and 9 gave similar accounts about Sandusky’s actions. Victim 6 was the first to testify. He was the boy from the 1998 investigation that led to no charges. The lead investigator in that case also testified, stating that he thought some charges should have been filed against Sandusky at that time, but that agreed on cross-examination that they did not have enough evidence to file any charges against him.
Victim 3 gave a similar account of abuse as the other young men. He stated that Sandusky made him feel part of a family, yet when the boy ended up in reform school and later foster care Sandusky never contacted him:
Sent to two different group homes and eventually enrolled in foster care, Victim 3 said he felt abandoned when he never heard from Sandusky after that.
“I’m mad, I’m enraged, I’m hurt … he could just forget about me like I was nothing after I was sent away,” he said.
“I prayed he would call me and maybe find a way to get me out of there.”
Perhaps the most powerful testimony came from Victim 9, an 18-year-old young man who recounted how Sandusky raped him:
Sandusky “got real aggressive and just forced me into it,” the man said, referring to the alleged rapes. “I just went with it. There was no fighting against it.”
He weighed perhaps 67 pounds when the abuse, the man testified. He said he would scream sometimes and tell Sandusky to get off of him.
“But other than that – who was there in the basement?” the man said. “No one can hear you down there.”
He believes Sandusky’s wife, Dottie Sandusky, was home during at least one rape. He does not think she could hear what was happening, he said, because he thought the basement had been soundproofed.
The man momentarily lost his composure once or twice while testifying but quickly regained it. He rarely looked at Sandusky, who at times rested his face in his right hand.
Under cross-examination, defense attorney Joseph Amendola asked the man if he needed medical treatment after the alleged rapes. The man said he did not seek that kind of help.
But he did bleed, he testified.
“I just dealt with it,” the man said, turning to look at Amendola. “I have a different way of coping with things.”
This pretty damning testimony, and now it there have been eight different young men, most of whom do not know each other, and all different ages who have given similar testimony. The way the prosecutor set up their testimony was skillful. The first two young men testified about how Sandusky essentially manipulated them and treated them like a lover. The other young men testified to a more controlling side of Sandusky. He did not just manipulate them, but seemed to use them and lose interest in them when they rebuffed him or he could no longer get around him. The last young man testified to rape as the general public would accept it. He screamed for help but no came to stop the abuse.
This is very hard to counter because the accounts are so similar it is difficult to believe any of them are lying.
The only thing that could really sway the jury into believing these young men lied is that some of them kept associating with Sandusky, some as recently as Novemeber of 2011. Pennsylvania does not allow expert testimony in sexual violence cases, so neither side can present anyone to explain why this might happen. While the young men have done a good job of explaining this themselves (stating that they enjoyed the attention and the gifts Sandusky gave them), the average person might not understand that.
I still speak with my father and my uncles. I spoke to my father about a week ago, although I have not seen him in months. While I was in college, I would still have lunch with him on occasion. I talk with my father for a practical reason. My youngest brother is on his insurance, and I need to make sure my brother gets everything he needs.
But I also talk to my father, and sometimes to my uncles, because he is my father. As much as I hate what he did, I still love him. A part of me still wants a normal relationship with him, so much so that I have had dreams about us being a normal family that were so vivid and real that I was not sure when I woke up that this was not the dream.
And that comes from a person who grew up in the situation. Imagine what it is like for someone who never had that kind of bond with anyone to finally have it and then have the person abuse them. The confusion and betrayal would be immense. It would be hard to cut Sandusky completely off unless the man made himself impossible to around. As we saw with some of the young men’s testimony, they still wanted some connection with Sandusky, but they wanted the abuse to stop.
This is how a child’s mind works, and it is unfortunate that no one can explain that to the jury. Hopefully, the jurors will look to their own experiences, particularly those with children, to understand what these young men might have been thinking.
Now that the prosecutors have presented their case, it is the defense’s turn. They will start their presentation on Monday. I believe the defense has 100 witnesses on their witness list, but I doubt they will present all of them. On the list to testify is Dottie Sandusky and Matt Sandusky, Jerry’s wife and son. It is also possible that Sandusky will testify himself. If so, it is regrettable that Pennsylvania does not allow cameras into the courtroom because that would be great television.