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Penn State witness says he saw shower assault

Penn State witness says he saw shower assault

June 12th, 2012 in News

BELLEFONTE, Pa. (AP) - A former Penn State assistant coach whose account led to Joe Paterno's downfall testified Tuesday he heard a "skin-on-skin smacking sound" in a campus locker room one night in 2001 and saw something that was "more than my brain could handle."

There was Jerry Sandusky standing naked in the showers behind a boy, slowly moving his hips, Mike McQueary told the jury. He said he had no doubt he was witnessing anal sex.

McQueary, one of the star witnesses in the child sexual abuse case against Sandusky, testified that he slammed his locker shut loudly as if to say, "Someone's here! Break it up!"

Then, he said, he went upstairs to his office to try to make sense of what he had seen.

Sandusky, 68, is on trial on charges he molested 10 boys over a 15-year period. Authorities say he abused them in hotels, at his home and inside the football team's quarters. The former assistant coach and founder of an acclaimed youth charity has denied the allegations.

Paterno was fired last fall, shortly after Sandusky's arrest, after it became known McQueary had told the head football coach about the shower episode a decade ago. Two months after his dismissal, Paterno died of lung cancer at 85.

McQueary was composed during his testimony, and when was asked if he knew Sandusky, he looked right at him with a sharp glance that Sandusky returned.

McQueary's account differed little from the one he gave in December at a preliminary hearing for two Penn State administrators charged with failing to report the alleged episode to authorities. The one difference: He said it took place in 2001 instead of 2002.

Testifying on Day 2 of Sandusky's trial, McQueary said he was at home, in bed, watching the movie "Rudy," when he decided to go to the football team building. He said he walked into the support staff locker room to put away a pair of new sneakers and, as he opened the door, heard a noise.

"Very much skin-on-skin smacking sound," he said. "I immediately became alert and was kind of embarrassed that I was walking in on something."

He said that he glanced over his shoulder at a mirror at a 45-degree angle and saw Sandusky "standing behind a boy who was propped up against a wall." He estimated the boy to be 10 to 12 years old. He said the boy's hands were up on the wall and "the defendant's midsection was moving" subtly.

"The glance would have taken only one or two seconds. I immediately turned back to my locker to make sure I saw what I saw," he said.

He said he wasn't sure whether Sandusky saw him. After slamming his locker to make some noise, he left.

"It was more than my brain could handle," he said. "I was making decisions on the fly. I picked up the phone and called my father to get advice from the person I trusted most in my life, because I just saw something ridiculous."

He said he was extremely vague with his father, who told him to leave immediately.

McQueary said he went to Paterno's house the next morning and relayed what he had seen, but did not describe the act explicitly out of respect for the coach and his own embarrassment.

He said Penn State administrator Tim Curley called him a week later, and McQueary met with him and another school official, Gary Schultz. They "just listened to what I had said," McQueary testified. A week or two later, he said, Curley called him to say they had looked into it.

The identity of the boy who was said to have been in the showers is a mystery. In fact, while prosecutors have charged Sandusky with abusing 10 boys, two of them have yet to be located or identified.

Earlier Tuesday, the teenager who triggered the grand jury investigation that rocked Penn State became the second of Sandusky's alleged victims to take the stand.

Choking back tears, he said that Sandusky kissed him, fondled him and engaged in oral sex with him during numerous sleepovers in the basement of Sandusky's home while the coach's wife was upstairs.

The accuser, labeled Victim No. 1 by a grand jury, said he eventually confided in a school district guidance counselor that Sandusky was molesting him, only to be told: "He has a heart of gold, and he wouldn't do something like that."

"So they didn't believe me," the teenager said.

School officials ultimately referred the case to the county's child-welfare agency, which found his account credible.