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Penn State trial opens with graphic testimony

Jerry Sandusky arrives at the Centre Country Courthouse on Monday.

Jerry Sandusky arrives at the Centre Country Courthouse on Monday. Photo by The Associated Press.

BELLEFONTE, Pa. (AP) — Jerry Sandusky’s trial in the Penn State scandal opened in graphic fashion Monday with the first witness testifying the retired coach molested him in the locker-room showers and 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, left nothing to the imagination as he 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 nearby.

Sandusky, 68, faces 52 counts that he sexually abused 10 boys over 15 years. The former assistant football coach has denied the allegations.

In opening statements, prosecutor Joseph McGettigan III told the jury that Sandusky was a “predatory pedophile” who methodically 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 of the accusers apparently intend to sue — a preview of the battle to come as the defense tries to undermine the credibility of the young men upon whom the case rests.

Until Monday, none of them had testified publicly, and their identities were shielded.

Victim 4 spoke calmly and firmly under questioning by the prosecutor.

In the car, Sandusky “would put his hand on my leg, basically like I was his girlfriend. ... It freaked me out extremely bad,” the man said, extending his arm and pushing it back and forth. “I pushed it away. ... After a little while, it would come right back. That drove me nuts.”

The man said he met Sandusky through The Second Mile and they began showering together in 1997. What began as “soap battles” quickly progressed to oral sex and other contact, the accuser said, adding that he was 90 or 100 pounds and powerless to resist the much larger man.

According to the witness, Sandusky tried assaulting him in a hotel bathroom before a bowl banquet in Texas and threatened to send him home when he resisted, warning: “You don’t want to go back, do you?” Sandusky stopped only when his wife, Dottie, called out from another room, the witness said.

Over the years, the witness said, he never told Sandusky to stop. “It was never talked about, ever,” the man said. “It was basically like whatever happened there never really happened.”

A self-described college football fan, the man said he enjoyed the access to Penn State football games and facilities. At one point, the man said, Sandusky let him wear the No. 11 uniform of LaVar Arrington.

The man testified that Sandusky also took him on trips to bowl games, including the Outback and the Alamo. He gave the boy golf clubs, snowboards, drum sets and various Penn State memorabilia, including a watch from the Orange Bowl, the man testified. He said he would wear gift jerseys to school.

The witness 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.”

Eventually, as the man got older and acquired a girlfriend, he became “basically sick of what was happening to me” and distanced himself from Sandusky. They last spoke in 2002.

Under cross-examination by Amendola, the man expressed regret for not coming forward earlier, saying: “I feel if I just said something back then ... I feel responsible for what happened to other victims.” He said he had spent years “burying this in the back of my head.”

During his opening statement, Amendola said Sandusky’s showering with children was innocuous and part of his upbringing.

“In Jerry’s culture, growing up in his generation, where he grew up, he’s going to tell you it was routine for individuals to get showers together,” the lawyer said. “I suspect for those of you who might have been in athletics, it’s routine.”

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