BELLEFONTE, Pa. -- Jerry Sandusky's trial in the Penn State scandal opened in graphic fashion yesterday with the first witness testifying that the retired coach molested him in the locker room showers and in hotels while trying to ensure his silence with gifts and trips to bowl games.
The man, now 28 and dubbed Victim 4 in court papers, told the jury about the abuse he said he endured for five years beginning when he was a teenager in the late 1990s. "I've denied it forever," he testified, looking straight at the prosecutor as Sandusky sat motionless.
Sandusky, 68, faces 52 counts that he sexually abused 10 boys over 15 years. The former assistant football coach has denied the allegations.
Prosecutor Joseph McGettigan III said Sandusky was a "predatory pedophile" who used his youth charity, The Second Mile, to zero in on fatherless children or those with unstable home lives, plied them with gifts and took advantage of them sexually.
Sandusky lawyer Joe Amendola countered that the case is flimsy and some accusers apparently intend to sue and have a financial stake in the case.
Victim 4 spoke calmly and firmly under questioning by the prosecutor and acknowledged he had at first lied to police and even his own attorney about the alleged abuse. "I don't even want to be involved now, to be honest," he said.
The man said he met Sandusky through The Second Mile and that they began showering together in 1997. What began as "soap battles" quickly progressed to oral sex and other contact, the accuser said.
The man said he enjoyed the access to Penn State football games and facilities. The man said Sandusky let him wear the No. 11 uniform of LaVar Arrington. He said Sandusky occasionally sent him "creepy love letters." One letter, shown on a video screen in court, was handwritten on Penn State letterhead and signed "Jerry." It read: "I know that I have made my share of mistakes. However I hope that I will be able to say that I cared. There has been love in my heart."