BELLEFONTE, Pennsylvania: Prosecutors branded former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky a “systematic serial predator” at the start of his pedophilia trial Monday, as one alleged victim told of being plied with gifts to lure him into sex.
The 68-year-old Sandusky, who stands accused of molesting 10 boys over a 15-year period, allegedly recruited his young victims under the guise of a program he ran for abused and neglected youth.
The case has shocked the United States, where many are obsessed by college sports and adore their American football team’s coaches.
The headline-grabbing scandal also has tarnished the legacy of Pennsylvania State University, one of the country’s most illustrious college football programs.
Speaking publicly for the first time of his ordeal, one of the alleged victims, now in his 20s, told how Sandusky would initiate sexual activity in a locked shower room reserved for Penn State coaches by starting a soap battle.
“A lot of this started as playfighting, slapping. Once I’d pull away, you could tell that he could get angry,” said the man, whose story prosecutors said aligns closely with that of other accusers.
The victim said he met Sandusky when he was about 13 or 14, and was showered with gifts like golf clubs and a snowboard by the coach, who was once revered as a hero by fans.