An 18-year-old known as 'Victim 9' told the court about a pattern of sexual assaults over three years that he allegedly endured in the basement of Jerry Sandusky's home. NBC's Michael Isikoff reports from Bellefonte, Pa.
Jurors now have three full days to consider graphic and at times disturbing testimony against former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky before his lawyers get their chance to answer next week.
Prosecutors in Bellefonte, Pa., concluded their case Thursday in Sandusky's trial on 52 counts alleging that he sexually abused 10 boys over 15 years, and the judge adjourned the trial until Monday.
Two grand jury reports accused Sandusky of having used his connection to one of the nation's premier college football programs to "groom" the boys, whom he met through his Second Mile charity for troubled children, for sexual relationships.
Sandusky, 68, who for many years was the presumed heir-apparent to the legendary Joe Paterno as head coach of Penn State's storied football team, has pleaded not guilty. Paterno — a revered figure in the sport — died in January, a few weeks after the university's Board of Trustees dismissed him for not having done enough to stop the alleged abuse.
Eight of the 10 men whose alleged sexual abuse formed the basis of the indictment testified this week, telling stories of sexual assaults, groping and — in one case — forcible rape that led to bleeding.
Jurors also heard from a former colleague of Sandusky, onetime Penn State assistant coach Michael McQueary, who testified that he witnessed Sandusky's having sex with a young boy 11 years ago. McQueary said he personally told Paterno about Sandusky's behavior but that nothing was done.
McQueary's testimony — which was corroborated by his father, who said he also discussed the incident with a senior university official — was just one of several accounts jurors heard that suggested that Penn State administrators and local prosecutors knew about Sandusky's alleged pedophilia for many years but took no action.
Thursday, the campus police officer who began investigating Sandusky in the late 1990s testified that he and social services officials recommended as early as 1998 that Sandusky should face criminal charges but that Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar declined.
The decision by Gricar — who disappeared under mysterious circumstances in 2005 and has been declared dead — remains one of the central riddles of the Sandusky case.
'We know there were reports 10 years ago'
Jurors appeared visibly shaken several times this week during testimony from the eight alleged victims, who met Sandusky through Second Mile.
Although Sandusky's accusers are being identified by name in court, NBC News and msnbc.com do not identify victims of sexual assaults.
The witnesses — all but one now in their 20s — graphically recounted incidents that they said included oral sex, attempted sexual penetration and repeated sexual groping; the final prosecution witness told of having been forcibly raped more than once. They said they reluctantly tolerated Sandusky's advances because they were scared and because he lavished them with gifts and prized spots on the sidelines for Penn State football games.
One of the young men testified that Sandusky followed his school bus so he could intercept him on the way home to demand an explanation for why the young man was avoiding him.
Another testified that Sandusky treated him "like his girlfriend" for more than two years, showering him with gifts he was afraid he would lose if he told anyone about Sandusky's increasingly sexual behavior.
A third testified that Sandusky threatened that he would be cut off from his family if he told anyone about their sexual relations.
On cross-examination, the defense closely questioned witnesses on details of the alleged incidents and when they occurred, part of a strategy to raise questions about whether the alleged victims — some of whom have hired lawyers or have said they plan to seek civil damages — are making up their stories for financial gain.
Wendy Murphy, a lawyer in Boston and former child sex crimes prosecutor, said that will be a tough case to make.
"If there were a couple of victims and good evidence of financial motive and that they did talk to each other before making a report to law enforcement, that's a good defense tactic in a case like this," Murphy said. "The problem is we know there were reports 10 years ago, and even older than that, that were corroborated and are in writing in some instances."
Defense attorneys also agreed to prosecutors' plans to play the audio of Sandusky's interview last November on the NBC News program "Rock Center," in which Sandusky denied the charges against him and told NBC's Bob Costas that he wasn't sexually attracted to young boys.
Murphy said playing the interview was a way for Sandusky's lead attorney, Joseph Amendola, to let jurors hear Sandusky deny the charges without having to put him on the stand.
"Amendola is not a dummy. He knows he had to get Sandusky on the record in some form that he could then use at trial denying guilt, because he knew he could never put him on the stand," Murphy said.
But at other times, Sandusky's attorneys appeared unprepared or flustered by testimony they clearly hadn't expected.
On Tuesday, the defense missed several opportunities to undermine McQueary's testimony, said Wes Oliver, a criminal law professor at Widener University and a legal analyst for NBC News and msnbc.com.
And on Wednesday, it mischaracterized previous testimony by McQueary's father as having come before a grand jury when it actually had been at a preliminary hearing in a separate but related criminal case.
When the witness said he couldn't remember that testimony, defense attorney Karl Rominger floundered and kept pressing the point so long that the judge expressed annoyance and cut him off.
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