Jerry Sandusky arrives at court Wednesday in Bellefonte, PA (image credit Jeff Swensen/Getty)
BELLEFONTE, Pa. (written by Kevin Johnson/USA Today) - A former Penn State University police officer described for jurors on Thursday how he enlisted the suspicious mother of an alleged victim in a sting operation to investigate whether former football coach Jerry Sandusky had abused her son in a university shower room in 1998.
Ronald Scheffler said he and another officer hid in the alleged victim's home where they listened as the mother confronted Sandusky about why he showered with her son. Scheffler said he heard Sandusky say "I wish I could ask for forgiveness. I know I won't get it from you. I wish I were dead."
The 1998 investigation marked the earliest formal criminal inquiry of abuse allegations against Sandusky. Scheffler said that he referred the case to the local district attorney for prosecution, but the district attorney refused the case.
Then-district attorney Ray Gricar later went missing and has never been found. He has since been declared dead.
The trial was in its fourth day Thursday after emotional testimony all week from prosecution witnesses offering graphic testimony about Sandusky's alleged sexual abuse. The 68-year-old coaching icon faces the prospect of life in prison if convicted on all or some of the 52 counts against him.
The alleged victim whose mother confronted Sandusky is now 25. He told jurors on Thursday that he continued to see Sandusky for years after the shower incident and his mother's confrontation.
The witness acknowledged even sending holiday cards to Sandusky as recently as 2009. The cards included a Thanksgiving Day greeting saying "I am glad God has placed you in my life. You are an awesome friend. Love ya."
The witness also said that in 2010 Sandusky lent him his car to use for the day.
Under a stiff cross-examination the witness said that he was now testifying because his "perception had changed as an adult."
"I hadn't thought a lot about the shower incident," the witness said. "That was put out of my mind."
He also acknowledged hiring a private attorney, but he said that he was seeking "zero" financial gain from his role in the case.
Judge John Cleland, who is overseeing the child sex-abuse trial, said the prosecution is expected to rest by Thursday afternoon.
Before the court recessed for lunch another alleged victim testified that on most of the 50 nights that he spent at Sandusky's house he said the coach would come to the basement bedroom, often barechested, and rub his body, blow on his stomach and fondle his penis.
The witness, now 25, expressed conflicted feelings for Sandusky at the time because he said Sandusky had made him feel like "part of his extended family."
The witness described his family life at the time as extremely troubled. "I loved him," he said.
He said his feelings changed after 2001 when he was sent away to a group home and later to foster care.
"I am enraged. I am hurt," he said. "He just forgot about me (after he was sent away). I would pray he would call me and find a way to get me out of there." he said.
Now a sergeant in the Army National Guard, the witness said that he "wanted nothing to do with this" prosecution when police first contacted him last year.
On Wednesday one of the alleged victims, now 28, told jurors that Sandusky threatened that he would never see his family again if he told anyone the coach had sexually assaulted him.
And in a setback for Sandusky's defense, Cleland allowed a Penn State janitor to recount Sandusky's alleged 2000 sexual assault of a young boy in a university shower room that was first related to the janitor by a co-worker who is ill and cannot testify.
The janitor, Ronald Petrosky, said that co-worker James Calhoun appeared ashen and badly shaken one fall evening before relating that he saw Sandusky and a boy in the showers and that the former coach was "licking (the boy's) privates."
"He said, 'Buck (Petrosky's nickname), I just witnessed something I'll never forget the rest of my life,' '' Petrosky said. Calhoun did not know Sandusky, but Petrosky said he knew the former coach by sight and saw him leaving the shower area with a boy just before encountering Calhoun.
The boy has never been found by authorities.
Among the most emotional moments of Wednesday's proceeding came when yet another victim, now 23, recounted how Sandusky struck up a friendship - again by offering coveted tickets to Penn State football games - and later allegedly abused him in a university shower.
With his family looking on, the witness wiped tears from his eyes as he described how the naked former coach approached him in the shower in 2001, leaving him little room to get away.
"I felt his body on my back," the witness said, describing how Sandusky closed in on him.
As he spoke, Sandusky appeared to be staring at him from his seat at the defense table.
When the witness's testimony was complete, his family quickly rushed from the courtroom.