BELLEFONTE, Pa. — One, a foster child, said he was threatened, warned he would never see his family again if he ever told anyone what happened. Another said he stayed quiet because he didn’t want to stop getting tickets to the hottest game in town — Penn State football.
That was how two of Jerry Sandusky’s alleged victims explained the former Penn State assistant coach’s hold over them.
“He told me that if I ever told anyone that I’d never see my family again,” the former foster child testified Wednesday on Day 3 of Sandusky’s child sexual abuse trial.
He said Sandusky uttered the threat after the coach pinned him while wrestling in the basement of the Sandusky home and performed oral sex on him.
Sandusky, 68, is charged with sexually abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period — accusations he has denied. His arrest last fall rocked Penn State and led to the firing of football coach Joe Paterno for not taking stronger action against Sandusky a decade ago.
Three of Sandusky’s accusers testified Wednesday, bringing to five the number of alleged victims to take the stand.
Tom Kline, the lawyer for one of them, told reporters outside the courthouse: “It’s just remarkable how many children one man can shower with.”
The 25-year-old man who told jurors about the threat to keep him away from his biological family said he believed Sandusky’s wife was inside the home, on a different floor, at the time. A foster child placed with another family, he occasionally stayed in the Sanduskys’ basement in State College in the late 1990s.
Speaking in a calm but sometimes hesitant voice, he said Sandusky later apologized for the threat: “He told me he didn’t mean it and that he loved me.”
The man, identified in court papers as Victim 5, said Sandusky also assaulted him on other occasions in 1998 and 1999, including once at a pool and another time in the basement. He said he was about 11 at the time.
An expressionless Sandusky sat mostly still at the defense table during his testimony, occasionally turning his head to look the accuser in the eye.
The alleged victim is one of two who came forward after Sandusky was initially charged in November with assaulting eight boys. Sandusky’s attorneys have suggested his accusers have financial reasons for coming forward.
Under cross-examination, the man testified that he was the roommate of another Sandusky accuser at a camp sponsored by Sandusky’s charity, The Second Mile. He also acknowledged spending nearly two years in prison for a robbery and involvement with drugs and alcohol, but said he is doing better now.
“I’m married. I’m expecting” a child, he said.
Another boy, dubbed Victim 8, has never been located and his identity is a mystery to prosecutors, but jurors heard about his alleged sexual abuse by Sandusky anyway.
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 Petrosky, said that when he encountered Calhoun in a football team locker room, the janitor told him he had seen Sandusky making a boy perform oral sex on him. Petrosky said Calhoun’s face was white and his hands were trembling.
Also Wednesday, another man, identified as Victim 10, said he met Sandusky at Second Mile Camp in 1999 and began attending Penn State games with Sandusky and others. In 2001, he said, Sandusky asked him to work out at a gym on campus and then groped him in the showers.
Afterward, the 23-year-old man said, Sandusky drove him home and made “no eye contact” with him. They had no contact since.
Another witness, identified as Victim 7, said he was 10 when he met Sandusky through the charity in 1995. He said Sandusky showered with him repeatedly and embraced him during sleepovers.
Sandusky was “wrapping himself around me, holding me tightly” when he slept over at the man’s house, the 27-year-old man said. He said he now has an aversion to chest hair because of his contact with a sometimes-shirtless Sandusky.
The accuser also described Sandusky rubbing his nipples and touching him beneath his shorts.
The man recalled attending Penn State football games with Sandusky’s family and receiving free tickets from Sandusky as recently as 2009.
“I wanted to go to games. I tried to block that stuff out and focus on the positives,” he said.
He said he told his parents of the abuse only last year, after being approached by police. He likened blocking out the negative memories to “putting staff in the attic.”
During cross-examination, defense attorney Joseph Amendola noted that the man’s testimony was more detailed than what he told a grand jury last year. The witness replied that he had started going to counseling.
“Talking about different events and through talking about things in my past, different things have triggered different memories,” he said.