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Entries in Victim (16)

Wednesday
Nov162011

Victim’s Mom Responds to Sandusky's Claims of Just 'Horsing Around'

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- In an exclusive interview with ABC News, the mother of the victim that set off the investigation into Jerry Sandusky’s alleged child sexual assault has said that she is disgusted and outraged by the former Penn State coach’s claims that he was merely “horsing around” with the boys.

The boy’s mother, who explained how she learned about her son’s alleged assaults at the hands of Sandusky in an interview last week with ABC's Good Morning America, said that the former coach coming forward to brush off the alleged child rapes will not help his case.

“It sickened me, that he would be on TV, trying to downplay his charges.  And I think it made him look more guilty,” the victim’s mother said.

Sandusky surprised many Monday night when he phoned in to an exclusive interview with NBC’s Bob Costas.  In the interview, he denied all of the 40 charges of child sexual assault that have been leveled against him, and said that he is not sexually attracted to young boys.

“I could say that I have done some of those things,” Sandusky said.  “I have horsed around with kids.  I have showered after workouts.  I have hugged them and I have touched their legs without intent of sexual contact."

“Am I sexually attracted to underage boys?  Sexually attracted, no -- I enjoy young people, I love to be around them … but no, I am not sexually attracted to young boys,” Sandusky replied to Costas.

The mother of the boy, who is referred to as Victim 1 in the grand jury presentment of the case against Sandusky, said that there is no way what went on between her son and Sandusky was just horseplay.

"No.  No, it's not games.  It's a planned out strategy to groom children to molest," she said.  "He definitely shouldn't have showered with those kids.  It was sickening, I mean I don't know anybody -- anybody -- who when somebody's like 50, would get in a shower naked with a 10-year-old."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov112011

Penn State Scandal: Mom of Sandusky's Alleged Victim Speaks to ABC News

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The mother of the boy who triggered the investigation into Jerry Sandusky's alleged child sex assaults says that during the years of abuse the boy felt he didn't have the power to say no to the former Penn State football coach.

Speaking exclusively with George Stephanopoulos on ABC's Good Morning America, the mother of the boy, who is referred to in court papers as Victim 1, describes how she learned of the abuse and how her son lived in fear of coming forward to implicate a football coaching legend.

"I had said, 'You know, maybe we should have come to this conclusion earlier -- you should have told me,'" the mother, whose name is being withheld, said she told her son.  "He was like, 'Well, I didn't know what to do … you just can't tell Jerry no.'"

Sandusky would often have the boy stay at his home after they met when he was 11 in 2005 through the Second Mile program, which the coach founded for at-risk youth.  According to the grand jury investigation, Sandusky "indecently fondled Victim 1 on a number of occasions, performed oral sex on Victim 1 on a number of occasions and had Victim 1 perform oral sex on him on at least one occasion."

In the interview, the boy's mother discusses how she gradually became aware of the abuse her son was suffering at Sandusky's hands.  Her boy would act out violently to intentionally become grounded and avoid seeing Sandusky, she says, and at one point he came to her saying he wanted to know how to look up information on sex offenders.

"[I] proceeded to ask him if there was something he needed to tell me, if there was something going on … it wasn't 'til a month later when he indicated he was uncomfortable with leaving the school with him, and [Sandusky] pulling him out of classes at school," she said.

According to the grand jury presentment that led to Sandusky's arrest last week on 40 counts of molesting eight boys over a 15-year period, the coach had unfettered access to the Clinton County high school attended by Victim 1.  Sandusky, who volunteered at the school's varsity football program, would often have unmonitored meetings with the boy.  On one occasion, a school wrestling coach witnessed inappropriate touching between the two in a secluded weight room, according to the grand jury presentment.

Though she was unable to get any direct answers from her son by prodding him about Sandusky's behavior, the boy's mother expressed her concerns to the school, who in turn spoke with the boy.  She was quickly called to the school where she learned more about the situation.

"I'm infuriated … Even if they had the slightest inclination that anything inappropriate was going on it should have been reported, or at least brought to my attention," she said.  "I didn't even know he was leaving the school with my child, taking him out of classes.  They never told me that."

The school's assistant principal told the grand jury that Sandusky was barred from the school district as soon as the mother had expressed concern about the coach's relationship with her son.

Throughout the course of the investigation and through testimony from her son, the boy's mother has learned what allegedly happened between her boy and Sandusky while he would sleep at the coach's home.

The boy testified that when staying in Sandusky's basement, the coach would come down and get into bed, crawling underneath him and running his arms up and down the boy's back to "crack" it.  He testified that this led to further inappropriate touching during the summer of 2005 through 2006, when he was in seventh grade.  This soon led to inappropriate sexual contact.

"I was horrified.  I was absolutely horrified," Victim 1's mother said.  "I knew some details but I didn't know that it was that, I didn't know it was that bad.  It's caused a lot of nightmares, for him and I both."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug232011

Seventh Victim Dies after Indiana Stage Collapse

Joey Foley/Getty Images(INDIANAPOLIS) -- A seventh victim of the stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair has died following her placement on life support so her organs could be donated.

Meagan Toothman, 24, of Cincinnati, died at 3:30 p.m. Monday, according to the Indiana State Police and the Marion County Coroner's Office.  Doctors battled brain swelling after Toothman suffered catastrophic injuries following the Aug. 13 stage collapse.

Toothman was a cheerleading coach at Turpin High School in Cincinnati.  She was put into a medically-induced coma two days after the tragic stage collapse ahead of a performance by the band Sugarland.

Toothman's family said the organ donation "will provide gifts of sight, health and life to dozens who are in need."

"Late last night it became apparent that our Meagan was no longer with us," the family wrote in an online journal.  "The decision was made to allow to her to be at peace."

In addition to those who died, at least four dozen others were injured by the stage collapse.

Nearly 12,000 people had gathered to watch Sugarland perform. Minutes before the band was set to appear on the outdoor stage, winds of up to 70 mph blew down thousands of pounds of steel scaffolding, wooden beams, lighting, sound and other equipment.

The crowd had been warned that thunderstorms were approaching and that they might have to evacuate.  But the same announcer said concert organizers hoped the show would go on, prompting many in the audience to stay put.

Two minutes later, just before 9 p.m., the stage collapsed.

Officials said the accident was the worst at the Indiana fairgrounds since a 1963 explosion at the fairgrounds coliseum killed 74 people attending an ice skating show.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug192011

Sixth Victim of Indiana Stage Collapse Dies

Joey Foley/Getty Images(INDIANAPOLIS) -- A 22-year-old college student is the sixth person to die from injuries suffered when a stage collapsed at the Indiana State Fair last weekend.

Jennifer Haskell, a senior at Ball State University, died Friday morning at a hospital in Indianapolis. Her uncle, Mike Whited, announced her death in a statement.

Along with several people who died immediately, at least four dozen others were injured by the stage crash in high winds during a concert Saturday night.

The fair reopened Monday after a memorial service to remember the victims of accident.

The fair's reopening after a day of being closed on Sunday comes as state officials widen their investigation of the cause of the stage's collapse and what role the weather, particularly such a forceful gust of wind, might have played.

Along with checking for signs of structural problems with the stage, investigators were reviewing whether fair and state officials acted swiftly enough in alerting concertgoers to a severe thunderstorm watch that was issued nearly three hours before the scheduled concert.

While many people fled as the massive structure fell under the force of the winds, hundreds rushed to help the victims, many trying to lift the stage to free people trapped underneath.

The crowd had been warned that thunderstorms were approaching and that they might have to evacuate. But the same announcer said concert organizers hoped the show would go on, so many stayed put.

Two minutes later, just before 9 p.m., it was too late.

"The funnel cloud came in and all of a sudden it started twirling around and the next thing I knew, I looked over my shoulder and the stand started coming down," witness Jay Keiser said.

Officials said the accident was the worst at the Indiana fairgrounds since a 1963 explosion at the fairgrounds coliseum killed 74 people attending an ice skating show.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Apr062011

Rape Victim Jess Smochek Honored By Congress

Getty Images/PeaceCorps[dot]gov(WASHINGTON) -- A Peace Corps volunteer who spoke out on 20/20 about being gang raped while serving in Bangladesh will be honored by Congress Wednesday evening for her work on behalf of victims.

Jess Smochek, 29, of Pennsylvania, will receive the 2011 Suzanne McDaniel Public Awareness Award from the bipartisan Congressional Victims' Rights Caucus at a Capitol Hill ceremony attended by members of Congress and victims advocates. After she was attacked, Smochek helped raise awareness of sexual assaults on Peace Corps volunteers and what she and other advocates consider the Corps' lack of support for victims.

"Thanks to the courage and determination of Jessica Smochek," said Rep. Ted Poe, R.-Texas, co-chair of the Caucus, "the mistreatment of victims of violence and the inadequate response from the Peace Corps has captured the attention of the nation" Rep. Poe, who will host tonight's event along with Caucus co-chair Rep. Jim Costa, D.-California, called Smochek's advocacy on behalf of victims "inspiring" and said that because of her Congress will have hearings next month "to hold the Peace Corps accountable" for the safety of volunteers.

Smochek told ABC News it was "incredibly humbling" to be recognized by the Victims' Rights Caucus. "They are my heroes, both for the work they've done for so many vulnerable populations and for the work I believe some of them are doing even now to help make sure my story won't have to be retold by future Peace Corps Volunteers."

Smochek was attacked while serving as a volunteer in Bangladesh in 2004. She says that a group of men began to stalk her from the very first day she arrived in the city where she was assigned. The men tried to kiss her and touch her, and ultimately gang raped her.

"They all took turns raping me," she told ABC News. "They raped me with their bodies. They raped me with foreign objects."

Smochek told ABC News about the attack in a joint interview with five other former volunteers who also were rape or sexual assault victims.

The gang rape occurred, she says, after Peace Corps officials in Bangladesh ignored her pleas to be relocated.

"Every day we felt unsafe. And we reported everything, we just kept reporting," she said.

She says the gang rape took place just hours after a Peace Corps safety official filed a report with the local police but again ignored her pleas for re-assignment. She says the young men knew she had complained to the police.

"They slammed me against the wall and just started threatening me, they're calling me a filthy American whore," she said. "'We told you to stop going to the police. And now we have to kill you.'" Smochek was left unconscious in a back alley.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jan172011

Arizona Shooting Victim Arrested After Tea Party Member Threatened

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- Police arrested one of the victims of the Arizona shooting after he reportedly threatened a tea party leader at an ABC News town hall event in Tucson on Saturday.

James Eric Fuller, 63, was arrested and ultimately taken for a psychiatric evaluation after the incident in which he threatened Tucson tea party co-founder Trent Humphries at a special edition of ABC's This Week with Christiane Amanpour.

Fuller, who apparently objected to something Humphries said during the taped forum, used a cell phone to take a picture of him and allegedly shouted "You're dead," according to the Pima County Sheriff's Department.

KGUN-TV in Tucson reported that Fuller was in the front row at the event, and that he apparently became upset when Humphries suggested that conversations about gun control should be delayed until all the dead were buried.

Fifteen seconds after the conclusion of the town hall event, law enforcement officials approached Fuller and led him to a side entrance.  A moment later, Fuller was heard yelling, "What's the matter -- with you -- whores!"

According to Pima County sheriff's spokesman Jason Ogan, Fuller was arrested on misdemeanor disorderly conduct and threat charges.  Authorities decided that Fuller was in need of a mental evaluation as they escorted him off of the premises, and he was taken to a local hospital.  The hospital will determine when he will be released, Ogan said.

Fuller, a naval air veteran, was one of 19 people shot at a Tucson, Arizona Safeway grocery store at the "Congress on Your Corner" event with Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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