NBC News has exclusively obtained a tape, recorded by police detectives the week before Jerry Sandusky's conviction, in which his own adopted son, Matt, talks about being sexually abused by the former Penn. State coach. NBC's Michael Isikoff reports.
Jerry Sandusky’s adopted son Matt told police he was sexually molested by his father for years — and once fled in fear from the Sandusky home — during a secret police interview that took place in the middle of his father’s trial for child sex-abuse, according to a copy of the tape obtained by NBC News.
Matt Sandusky, 33, said his father would enter his bedroom at night and “blow raspberries” on his stomach, then move his hand down his body, rubbing up against his genitals. Matt Sandusky said he would sometimes cower “in a fetal position” in his bed trying to avoid his father.
“It just was, just became very uncomfortable. You know, just with everything that was going on,” he said on the tape.
“What was, what was going on?” a police detective asked.
“With like the showering, with the hugging, with the rubbing, with the just talking to me. The way he spoke. And just, the whole interaction with him alone. Anything, anytime we were alone just those interactions…” Matt Sandusky said on the tape.
But unlike some of the victims who testified at Sandusky’s trial, Matt Sandusky said he could not remember if his father ever actually engaged in certain sex acts with him.
“You said at the beginning of our interview last night that things happened to you, but there was no, that you can recall, there was no penetration or oral sex. Is that correct?” the police detective asked.
“Yes. As of this time, I don’t recall that.”
NBC News has exclusively obtained the 29-minute audiotape, which was recorded by police detectives on June 15, four days after the Jerry Sandusky trial began. At the time, the detectives were preparing Sandusky’s son to testify as a surprise prosecution witness at his father’s trial.
For years, Matt Sandusky had publicly stood by his father and even showed up on the first day of the trial, sitting with the rest of the Sandusky family. But after listening to the first day of testimony from a young man known in court documents as "Victim 4," Matt Sandusky contacted police and volunteered to testify on behalf of the prosecution. The prosecutors’ plan was to use Matt Sandusky as a rebuttal witness if Jerry Sandusky took the stand in his own defense.
It turned out to be a crucial turning point in the Sandusky trial. When Jerry Sandusky learned that his own adopted son was prepared to testify against him, it was a “complete shock," and it played a big role in his decision not to take the witness stand, according to one of his lawyers, Karl Rominger.
“You have to understand that Matt has worked with him, Matt has helped the defense, Matt literally carried boxes in the courthouse with us,” Rominger said. “Matt has given multiple investigators from the government and our side ironclad statements of support for his father.”
“That was the first day where he (Jerry Sandusky) really was visibly shaken, or upset,” Rominger added. Asked how big a role Matt Sandusky played in his client’s decision not to testify, Rominger said: “It was a huge factor.”
Had Matt Sandusky actually taken the stand, he added, “We would have hit Matt with both barrels. … He told the police 'no,' he told our investigator, 'no,' he told the A.G.’s office 'no,' he told the grand jury 'no.' And then one day in the middle of the trial he suddenly says, 'All these things happened?'”
In his interview with police, Matt Sandusky was asked directly why he decided to change his previous denials of abuse and cooperate with police.
“I came forward, I mean, for different reasons,” he said. “But I mean for my family you know so that they can really have closure and see what the truth actually is. And just to right the wrong, honestly, of going to the grand jury and lying.”
Matt Sandusky also said that he has been working with a therapist and, as a result, “more memories are coming back.”
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Matt met Jerry Sandusky through The Second Mile, the charity the former Penn State University defensive coordinator founded to help at-risk children. Like many other Second Mile boys, he began staying overnight at the Sandusky house. Sandusky and his wife, Dottie, later became his foster parents and adopted him at age 18.
But Matt Sandusky told police he was molested for much of that time, saying that his father would become sexually aroused by rubbing against him in the shower, during wrestling sessions and in bed. The sexual overtures at one point caused him to try to escape his father’s clutches by fleeing from the house barefoot at night in a thunderstorm and running to his grandfather’s house to hide in the basement.
On another occasion, he and a girlfriend, who was also staying at the Sandusky house, tried to commit suicide by overdosing on aspirin at a hotel. Matt Sandusky told police he finds it “hard to believe” that his father’s abuse wasn’t a factor in causing him to try to kill himself, although “I don’t have any concrete evidence.”
“But I know that I really wanted to die at that point in time so that’s best I can really answer that.” Matt Sandusky also said that his father’s molesting stopped when he started to “transition” to another young man who used to stay at the Sandusky house. That boy, now a man known in court documents as "Victim 4," was the first witness at Sandusky’s trial, testifying to years of sexual abuse.
The police detective said on the tape, “You told us that you feel (Victim 4) took over for you, and that he was your dad’s transition?”
“I believe my dad moved on from me to (Victim 4), yes,” Matt Sandusky replied.
In a statement Monday night to NBC News, Matt Sandusky’s lawyers, Andrew Shubin and Justine Andronici, said: “This tape demonstrates Matt’s tremendous courage and strength as he begins to disclose that Jerry Sandusky sexually abused him when he was a child. Although the tape was released without Matt’s knowledge or permission, he made the difficult decision to come forward and tell the painful truth to investigators despite the extraordinary pressure to support his father.”
After a two-week trial, Jerry Sandusky was convicted Friday night on 45 of 48 counts of child sex abuse. His lawyer, Rominger, said he was the first to visit Sandusky in jail Monday and described his client as defiant.
“He’s not a beaten man,” he said. “He is pacing a cell right now, being held in solitary confinement, wanting to get out and get his story out and continue to defend himself.” He added: “I don’t think Jerry believes there’s anything to feel sorry for. At this point, he maintains his innocence adamantly.”
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