USA Today tells the story of Jerry Sandusky’s “Victim 1” at Penn State, credited with launching the prosecution that led to last week’s devastating review of the university by a group headed by ex-FBI director Louis Freeh. It found that Penn State’s leaders did nothing to stop the former coach’s abuse. What has not been discussed in detail is the victim’s painful journey, from accuser to crucial prosecution witness. The victim’s psychologist, Michael Gillum, described his client’s decision to step forward, an exhaustive schedule of police interviews, and three anxious appearances before the grand jury. All of it was a prelude to taking the witness stand in a packed courtroom just yards from the man who abused him.
Gillum, who spoke with his client’s knowledge, hopes that by relating his experience, other victims of abuse would be encouraged to report it, regardless of the consequences. “From the first time we met,” Gillum said, “he was fearful that he would be killed. He believed that Jerry Sandusky could have him killed.” There is no evidence that Sandusky made such a threat, but Gillum said the boy’s extreme fear, along with anonymous threats delivered by telephone and letter after his name was linked to the investigation, set in motion elaborate plans by youth authorities to relocate the victim and his mother if their safety was put at risk.