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Entries in Victims (26)

Tuesday
Feb122013

Gun Violence Victims Sound Off as State of the Union Guests

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- “Do something. You can.”
 
That was the plea of Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton to Congress Tuesday afternoon, hours before she was set to appear in the guest box of first lady Michelle Obama during the State of the Union address Tuesday night.

The Pendletons lost their daughter in January when she was shot by what police believe to have been Chicago gang members. Only days earlier the 15-year-old drum majorette had returned from Washington, D.C. where she had participated in the president’s second inaugural festivities.
 
“No one should feel the way we do and I'm appealing to Congress to be smarter than me. You guys signed up for the job,” the mother said.
 
Hadiya Pendleton’s death became the latest symbol in a renewed national debate on gun control.
 
The Pendletons are among at least 42 victims of gun violence who will be present for President Obama’s address Tuesday night, including family members of victims of the Dec. 14 elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., in which 20 first graders and six adults were slain. The guests were invited on behalf of the White House and dozens of lawmakers.

Cowley-Pendleton and other guests spoke Tuesday in the Capitol about what they want from the legislature and the Oval Office. The guests gathered in the Gabe Zimmerman Meeting Room, named for the aide of then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was fatally shot in 2011 when a gunman opened fire on the congresswoman and the crowd around her at an event in Tucson, Ariz. Zimmerman’s mother and fiancé were among the participants at Tuesday's event.
 
Also in attendance was Elvin Daniel of McHenry, Illinois. Daniel, a hunter and long-standing member of the National Rifle Association, lost his sister, Zina Haughton, when she was killed by her husband in a shooting rampage. Local media reported that days earlier the woman had obtained a restraining order against her husband that would have barred his ownership of a firearm.
 
Choking back tears Tuesday, Daniel implored the government to pass universal background check measures for all gun purchases.

Many members of Congress who had invited the guests were present for the remarks, wearing green and white ribbons in memory of the victims. Each lawmaker had been personally affected by gun violence in the past.

Representatives of the Brady Campaign Against Gun Violence, Million Mom March and Mayors Against Illegal Guns were also present for the event.

Not all victims of gun violence present on Capitol Hill had come to petition for strengthened gun control measures. Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday morning, one victim told lawmakers that had she not complied with state gun laws by leaving her firearm in her car, she may have helped to avert a 1991 massacre at Killeen, Texas that left 23 dead and scores more wounded.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan022013

Aurora Shooting Victims’ Families Outraged by Invitation to Re-Opening

Thomas Cooper/Getty Images(AURORA, Colo.) -- Families of many of the victims killed in the Aurora, Colo., movie theater massacre are calling an invitation to attend “a special evening of remembrance” when the multiplex re-opens later this month “disgusting” and “offensive.”

In a letter to the theater owner, Cinemark USA Inc., family members of nine of the murdered victims say the invitation to attend the event was ill-timed, at best. They are calling for a boycott of the theater.

“During the holiday we didn’t think anyone or anything could make our grief worse but you, Cinemark, have managed to do just that by sending us an invitation two days after Christmas inviting us to attend the re-opening of your theater in Aurora where our loved ones were massacred,” the letter says.

On July 20, James Holmes allegedly opened fire inside a crowded midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises. Twelve people were killed and 58 were wounded. Holmes has not yet entered a plea.

An official with Plano, Texas-based Cinemark USA Inc. told ABC News Wednesday that the company has no comment on the letter from the families.

“I was appalled at their lack of sensitivity. It’s very upsetting,” Mary Ellen Hansen told ABC News. Hansen is the great-aunt of six-year-old Veronica Moser-Sullivan, who was killed in the attack. Hansen’s niece, Ashley Moser — Veronica’s mother — was paralyzed in the shooting and suffered a miscarriage.

“It’s been a horrible holiday season, and this letter came on my birthday, Dec. 27, which made it even worse,” said Tom Teves, who lost his son Alex in the July 20 shooting.

Family members of the victims say they received the invitation through the Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance to attend the Jan. 17 re-opening, followed by the screening of a movie.  The film was not specified.

“Our family members will never be on this earth with us again and a movie ticket and some token words from people who didn’t care enough to reach out to us, nor respond when we reached out to them to talk, is appalling,” the families wrote. They said they “will be using every social media tool at our disposal to ask the other victims to ask their friends and family to honor us by boycotting the killing field of our children.”

Several lawsuits have already been filed against Cinemark by families of the victims killed as well as some theatergoers wounded that night, citing inadequate security at the theater.

A preliminary hearing in Holmes’ case is scheduled for Monday.

HERE IS THE FULL TEXT OF THE LETTER:


To the Management of Cinemark USA, Inc.:

During the holiday we didn’t think anyone or anything could make our grief worse but you, Cinemark, have managed to do just that by sending us an invitation two days after Christmas inviting us to attend the re-opening of your theater in Aurora where our loved ones were massacred. Thanks for making what is a very difficult holiday season that much more difficult. Timing is everything and yours is awful.

You (Cinemark) has shown, and continues to show, ZERO compassion to the families of the victims whose loved ones were killed in their theater. You, Cinemark, have never once reached out to the families to offer condolences.

This disgusting offer that you’d “like to invite you and a guest to a special evening of remembrance on Thursday, January 17 at 5 PM" followed by the showing of a movie and then telling us to be sure “to reserve our tickets" is wholly offensive to the memory of our loved ones.

Our family members will never be on this earth with us again and a movie ticket and some token words from people who didn’t care enough to reach out to us, nor respond when we reached out to them to talk, is appalling.

You (Cinemark) refused our repeated invitations to speak parent to parent with no lawyers involved. Instead, we get invited to attend a “special evening of remembrance” at the very theater where our loved ones lay dead on the floor for over 15 hours. We would give anything to wipe the carnage of that night out of our minds’ eye. Thank you for reminding us how your quest for profits has blinded your leadership and made you so callous as to be oblivious to our mental anguish.

We, the families, recognize your thinly veiled publicity ploy for what it is: A great opportunity for you to distance yourselves and divert public scrutiny from your culpability in this massacre.

After reading our response to your ridiculously offensive invitation, you now know why we will not be attending your re-opening celebration and will be using every social media tool at our disposal to ask the other victims to ask their friends and family to honor us by boycotting the killing field of our children.

The Families of the Aurora Cinemark Theatre Massacre

Thomas Teves (father of Alex Teves)

Caren Teves (mother of Alex Teves)

Sandy Phillips (mother of Jessica Ghawi)

Lonnie Phillips (stepfather of Jessica Ghawi)

Jerri Jackson (mother of Matt McQuinn)

Greg Medek (father of Micayla Medek)

Rena Medek (mother of Micayla Medek)

Anita Busch (cousin of Greg and Micayla Medek)

Robert Wingo, (father of Rebecca Ann Wingo’s two children)

Scott Larimer (father of John Larimer)

Kathleen Larimer (mother of John Larimer)

Jessica Watts (cousin of Jonathan Blunk)

Robert Sullivan (grandfather of Veronica Moser-Sullivan)

Sue Sullivan (grandmother of Veronica Moser-Sullivan)

Cassandra Sullivan (widow of Alex Sullivan)

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Dec082012

'Secret Sandy' Brings Christmas Presents to Hurricane Victims

Joy Huang(NEW YORK) -- Superstorm Sandy came just before the holidays destroying mostly everything in her path.

But she hasn't destroyed the Christmas spirit for those affected by her wrath.

Thanks to Secret Sandy, two women are making holiday wish lists a reality for families affected by the historic storm.

Co-founders Joy Huang and Kimberley Berdy created Secret Sandy, an online gift-giving exchange where donors can give anonymously by accessing the wish lists and needs of families through Amazon.

The concept was born days after the storm when Huang volunteered at St. Francis de Sales parish in Belle Harbor, one of the wrecked New York City neighborhoods on the Rockaway peninsula.

"After seeing the devastation, there were piles of cars just dead or in the middle of the street," said Huang. "I started asking myself how can I help? How can I help just one person? Two people? And then it spread."

Huang noticed inside the church there were donations of diapers, bleach, batteries and other bare necessities to clean up homes and take care of immediate emergencies.

"People just gave and gave and gave," said Huang. "We wanted to make sure that generosity extended though to the holidays."

In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, Huang and Berdy teamed up with City Harvest to brainstorm a gift-giving idea. Huang realized that many families did need the essentials, but said "kids still need to be kids."

Together, with their friends, Berdy and Huang created the website for Secret Sandy and launched the site the day before Thanksgiving. So far, the site has 2,100 registered volunteers and over 850 children and families who have asked for post-Sandy help this holiday season. Donations have come as far as the Netherlands.

"It's a new twist on an old theme," said Huang. "It's a modern take on something very traditional."

The way the site works is affected families that need Christmas help can download and mail in or fill out a letter to their Secret Sandy. Letters ask kids to answer questions like 'The thing that I miss most is...' and 'I hope that I'm soon able to...'

"I've read letters where a kid watched his Lego set float away," said Huang. "Another said he misses school and another simply wrote, 'I hope I will feel normal again.'"

"Every spare minute of my day is dedicated to making this happen, so when I'm up at 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. and I read a letter from some family and their son or daughter at age 4 or 5 says all they want is "normalcy" - the least I can do is try to help give them that for a few minutes because no child should have to want things to be normal at that age," said Berdy.

Also in the letter are four areas for kids to list items on their wish list with links to "moderately priced" items found on Amazon. Those letters are then distributed to donors and the wish list is shared among several donors.

"We ask that people are putting moderately priced items on their wish list because we want to be respectful to people who have open hearts," said Huang. "We can't assume they have open pockets."

Because Secret Sandy has a surplus of donors, many donors are asking if they can help without waiting for a wish list. Huang and Berdy are encouraging donors to purchase and send gift cards to the address found on the website.

"You get these very sad people who are just broken from this who say, 'I didn't have insurance,' 'FEMA denied us,' 'We lost our car,'" said Huang. "We're asking people to send in gift cards to Target, Home Depot and Loews so people can get necessities." This isn't the first instance where anonymous giving is helping those in need for the holidays. In Oregon, one secret angel paid off the lay away accounts of five individuals at a Toys 'R Us including a single mother of two. Earlier this week, the store saw another angel pay off the lay away balances of unsuspecting families.

"It's nice to see people are so generous and so kind and supportive to help people they don't know," said Huang.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov062012

Volunteers Use Wedding Registries to Help Sandy Victims

Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- When Ashley Diamond envisioned herself helping out a fellow runner last Sunday she thought it would be along the course of the New York Marathon, the race for which she and nearly 40,000 other runners had spent months training.

Instead Diamond, an influential blogger in the tight-knit New York running world, found herself in front of a computer, still helping a fellow would-be marathoner but in a very different way.

Diamond, 28, logged on to Target.com to help Jen Correa of Staten Island, New York, who was also planning to run the marathon but instead found herself homeless and left with nothing after superstorm Sandy decimated her neighborhood last week.

The "wedding registry" Diamond created for Correa had nothing to do with weddings, however, and everything to do with what more and more people are doing in the aftermath of Sandy: trying to help those devastated by the storm.

"I was expecting Target to have a housewarming or new home registry and when I only saw 'wedding' or 'baby,' I thought I would just go into the wedding because I knew the items they'd suggest would be similar items," Diamond said.

Diamond renamed the registry "Jen and Pedro's Rebuilding Registry," after Jen and her husband, Pedro, an Iraq war veteran who stayed behind and narrowly survived the storm while Jen evacuated with the couple's two young children, ages 2 and 7.

"Registries are everywhere and have everything on there and allow people to choose things of all prices," Diamond said. "I listed their wedding date as Christmas Day and went to the top sellers, within a reasonable price point, and figured if it was a top seller and the ratings were good I would add it to the registry."

The idea to create a gift registry for the Correas came to Diamond, appropriately enough, while she was out on a run with her husband, Bo, who was also planning to run the marathon last Sunday. They saw it as a more tangible alternative to the fundraising site the family's friends had already created.

"This is finally a way that when someone buys it online they'll [the Correas] start getting things in the mail the next day," she said. "And, for the Correas, can you imagine a child who has nothing being able to open a box and have a princess or, for her son, to have a Mario wall decal, because that's something from his room that doesn't exist now?"

A wedding registry's direct impact also appealed to a trio of volunteers with Occupy Sandy, an Occupy Wall Street-offshoot created to help Sandy's victims. The three 25-year-old Brooklyn residents built their own "wedding registry" for Sandy's victims after spending a day volunteering in the field.

"We realized that they [Occupy Sandy organizers] knew exactly what they needed and just weren't getting it quickly enough so we thought a wedding registry would give them exactly what they needed," said Katherine Dolan, one of the organizers.

Instead of wedding items like china and monogrammed towels, the Occupy Sandy registry lists items like cleaning supplies, blankets, flashlights and shovels. Forgoing the wedding fluff, the registry lists the couple's style as "warm and non-perishable" and says that the couple has requested that the gifts not be gift-wrapped. Buyers can ship the items directly to a local church in Brooklyn now serving as a hub for Occupy Sandy volunteers.

"The first delivery came this morning and there was over $3,000 worth of products," Dolan said. "It's going to be weeks of recovery so we're going to keep up with it."

Diamond says the outpouring she has received from her single blog post Monday announcing the registry is also unlike anything she has ever seen before. From the time that Diamond told Correa of her efforts, to the moment when Correa got to her sister's home and was able to view the registry, everything listed had been purchased.

"Monday was the highest traffic day I've ever had on my blog," Diamond said. "I think when they [donors] can really put their donation and their money with a face and a family it just gives them that extra incentive. They love that they know exactly where their donations are going."

The Minneapolis-based Target, which announced last week it had donated $500,000 in money and products to assist with Hurricane Sandy relief efforts on its own, did not reply to a request for comment placed by ABC News as of this writing. Amazon.com also did not reply to a request.

The Correas, who at first had the registry gift items sent to Jen's sister's home, now also have a place to house the generosity of others, in their new, temporary rental home.

"I got a text last night at 9:30 from Jen saying, 'I'm so excited to have four walls. There may be no gas and no heat but there are four walls. And it's really easy to move when all you have is two air mattresses,'" Diamond said.

For more information on the "Jen and Pedro Rebuilding Registry," click here. For more information on the "Occupy Sandy Wedding Registry," click here.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep282012

Minneapolis Shooter Spared Some, Shot Others; Fifth Victim Dies

Joseph Devenney/Getty Images(MINNEAPOLIS) -- The man who shot up a Minneapolis sign-making business selected his targets carefully, walking past some employees while shooting others, police said Friday.

Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan Friday detailed Andrew Engeldinger's shooting rampage as a fifth victim died from wounds. Engeldinger shot himself in the head, bringing the total of Thursday's carnage to six.

Engeldinger, 36, shot up Accent Signage Systems Thursday afternoon just hours after he was fired from the company.

"It was a case he was terminated that day. He did come back about 4:25 to that location, parked his car and walked in the loading dock area and immediately started shooting people at that location," Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan said during a news conference Friday, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

The chief said Engeldinger did not fire indiscriminately at people, but picked out his targets.

"It's clear he did walk by some people, he did walk by people to get to certain other members of the business," Dolan said.

The chief said Engeldinger used a 9mm Glock semi-automatic pistol he had owned for about a year. Police who searched Engeldinger's home early Friday found another gun, Dolan said. He said that Engeldinger had purchased the guns a year ago and had been practicing shooting them. They found packaging for 10,000 rounds of ammunition in the house, he said.

"He's obviously been practicing in how to use that gun," Dolan said.

The bodies of the four victims were found shortly after police arrived at the scene while evacuating other employees, according to a police statement.

Minneapolis Police Deputy Chief Kristine Arneson said Engeldinger died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The company's owner, Reuven Rahamim, was killed in the shooting as well as United Parcel Service driver Keith Basinski. The other three victims' names were not released.

Two people also injured in Thursday's shooting remained at Hennepin County Medical Center Friday. One was in serious condition and the other remained critical.

Barbara Haynes was driving home from her teaching job when she got stuck in traffic near the scene.

"I've never seen that many police vehicles on the scene and SWAT teams, uniforms, the guns ... pretty heavy artillery," Haynes told ABC News.

Marques Jones, 18, of Minneapolis, said he was outside a building down the street having his high school senior pictures taken when he and his photographer heard gunfire that sounded close.

"We heard about four to five gunshots," Jones said. "We were shocked at what happened and we just looked at each other. We all just took off running to our vehicles."

Accent Signage Systems' website says the company makes interior signage and listed its founder as Rahamim.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug282012

Aurora Shooting Victims Angry Over $5 Million Relief Fund

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(AURORA, Colo.) -- The families of the Colorado theater shooting victims came together publicly for the first time Tuesday in a press conference fueled by pain, anger and frustration over the actions of a charity fund set up to help the families.

In the wake of the shooting that left 12 people dead and 58 wounded, a non-profit called Giving First set up the Aurora Victims Relief Fund, which was supported by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Members of the public and private entities have raised $5 million through the fund, but the families say that the charity has not been working fast enough to distribute the money and that they are not including the victims' families in the decision-making process.

The group was led by Tom Teves, whose 24-year-old son Alex Teves died protecting his girlfriend from the gunfire in the theater on July 20.

"Forget about having a robust guiding voice, the victims have no voice at all," Teves said. "Fighting for justice is not easy for us because we are doing this at a time in our lives when we are in extreme pain."

"It's incomprehensible what we have to do," he said. "There's not enough money in the federal government to replace what we lost."

Teves said that the $5 million was collected "using our murdered loved one's pictures and names" with the promise that all of the money would go directly to the victims' families.

"Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be the case," Teves said.

Only a fraction of the money has made its way to the victims so far, Teves said, with priority being given to various non-profit organizations. He claimed that it was only after the families started making noise about the funds that the organization distributed $350,000. Each of the 70 victims' families was given $5,000.

Chantel Blunk, the wife of Jonathan Blunk, who died in the theater, said that she was told the $5,000 should cover funeral costs, psychiatric help, debts and other necessities.

"How do you raise a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old until they're 18 with $5,000?" Blunk asked incredulously.

Giving First did not respond to request for comment.

Teves also called on Hickenlooper to help the families, saying that his requests to speak to the governor have not been answered.

"Gov. Hickenlooper, you came and grieved with our families," he said. "We allowed you into our innermost circle at the worst time in our lives. We didn't do this lightly. You pledged 12 times, 'We will remember.' Are you a man that is true to your words or are they just words?"

At a vigil days after the shooting, Hickenlooper said the name of each shooting victim and led the crowd in a refrain of "We will remember" after each name.

Hickenlooper's office did not respond to a request for comment.

The families made a few passing references to accused shooter James Holmes, referring to him as a "coward," "somebody sick" and a "horrible man," but made it clear that they did not want to give him any more publicity than he has already received.

Holmes is accused of a mass killing in which he sprayed bullets into a crowded movie theater during a midnight premiere screening of the Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises on July 20. Twelve people were killed and 58 were wounded in the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, as measured by number of people shot.

Holmes was charged with 24 counts of first-degree murder, two counts for each of the people he is accused of killing. He was also charged with 116 counts of attempted first-degree murder, one count of possessing an explosive device and one count of violent crime. He faces a total of 142 criminal charges.

Multiple family members said that they were not looking to "get rich" from the funds.

"We have nothing to gain as the family of the murder victims," Teves said. "We have already lost everything. Evil started this. Good has to finish it. It's time to pick a side."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun142012

Alleged Victim Says Jerry Sandusky Was 'Tickle Monster' in Shower

Patrick Smith/Getty Images(BELLEFONTE, Pa.) -- The case against former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky was headed for a dramatic conclusion today as the jury braced for a man known as Victim 9 who is expected to testify how he called out to Sandusky's wife for help while allegedly being molested in their basement, but got no response.

Victim 9 will be the eighth and last of the alleged sex abuse victims to give detailed accounts of Sandusky's aggressive assaults that could put him away for life if convicted of the attacks.

Prosecutor Joseph McGettigan told the court that he will conclude his case today, much earlier than expected.

Two other men told the court today how as young boys they were allegedly molested by Sandusky.

Victim 6, who is now 24, said that as a young boy growing up in State College, Pa., he idolized the Penn State football team and the day he got to try on football helmets and shoulder pads from the star players, ones that "were huge for me" was a thrilling day -- until Sandusky asked him to take a shower. The man said that Sandusky bear-hugged him, tickled him, called himself the "tickle monster" and lifted him up in the shower saying he was going to "squeeze (the boy's) guts out."

The shower made him "uncomfortable," but the memory of what happened stopped there. The man, identified as Victim 6, said he "blacked out" when Sandusky lifted him up in the shower, and he could not remember exactly what happened next. "Then he had his hands around my waist and lifted me up to the shower head to get the soap out of my hair. I believe my chest was to his chest," he said. "I don't think it was touching but I remember going into the shower head and having to close my eyes so soap wouldn't go in, and that's the last thing I remember about being in the shower. That's the best recollection I've got.

"I don't even remember being put down," he said. "Everything else is just blacked out. I don't remember any more."

The episode became the linchpin for the first criminal investigation of Sandusky as a child sex abuser, launched in 1998 when the man's mother called Penn State campus police to report that a staff member had been inappropriately showering with her son. That investigation came close to an arrest for Sandusky, according to testimony by the lead investigator, Ronald Scheffler, who worked as a criminal investigator for the university police. Scheffler said that he interviewed Sandusky about the incident, and Sandusky admitted that he had showered with many children. But Scheffler never followed up to see how many, what activities had gone on in the shower, or how old the children were. Scheffler told McGettigan that he believed there was enough to charge Sandusky, but district attorney Ray Gricar decided not to prosecute.

It would be 10 more years, and at least half a dozen other alleged victims, until Sandusky would be investigated once again, finally resulting in 52 counts of child sex abuse charges when he was arrested in November 2011.

The episode with Victim 6 was quickly pulled apart by Sandusky's defense attorney, Joseph Amendola, who noted that though Victim 6 said he did not remember what happened in the shower, he told Scheffler in the days immediately following the incident that he was sure Sandusky never touched him sexually or asked the boy to touch Sandusky sexually.

"I could sort of feel like he kissed me once or twice on the head, like you would kiss your child, you know what I mean," the boy said in the transcript.

"Like you would kiss a child," Amendola repeated.

Amendola stressed that Gricar, a veteran prosecutor, decided not press charges because there was no evidence of sexual abuse, to which Scheffler conceded the point. Gricar disappeared without a trace in 2005, and so could not shed light on why he decided not press charges against Sandusky in 1998.

Amendola also had Victim 6 read aloud text messages he sent to Sandusky as recently as 2009, wishing him a happy Father's Day and telling him on Thanksgiving that he was grateful God placed Sandusky in the boy's life. The man also visited with Sandusky as recently as summer, 2011, when he went out to lunch with him.

Another witness identified as Victim 3 said that in wrestling and tickling with Sandusky the coach would sometimes cause the boy when he was 12 to have an erection and that the coach would sometimes touch his penis. But Victim 3, now 25, also said how much he liked Sandusky and was disappointed when he was sent to a group home and had to break off contact with him.

"He made me feel like I was part of a family. He gave me things that I had never had before," Victim 3 said. When asked if he liked Sandusky, Victim 3 replied, "I loved him."

Victim 3 is a member of the Army National Guard and spent a year deployed in Iraq.

Though Amendola made some headway in his attempt to show that the eight alleged victims may have misinterpreted Sandusky's overly affectionate behavior as sexual, the boys' accounts closely echoed that of other witnesses who say that showering, bear-hugs, and shampooing led to aggressive sexual activity. The testimony also echoed the statements of five earlier witnesses in another way, as each of them said that although they were touched inappropriately or sexually molested by Sandusky, they were so enamored with his status as a Penn State coach who could bring them to games and give them access to players that they kept quiet. "I think I introduced myself to him because I was real excited to meet him. I grew up in a Penn State fan house, my sister went there, I followed the program. Anything to do with Penn State I just wanted to be a part of it. I was a huge football fan then," Victim 6 said.

"I tried to get out of his grasp but at same time be in a joking manner with him so I wouldn't make him upset," the man said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun142012

Jerry Sandusky Trial Braces to Hear from Additional Victims

Patrick Smith/Getty Images(BELLEFONTE, Pa.) -- A Penn State janitor who was cleaning the football locker rooms in 2001 when Jerry Sandusky allegedly forced a young boy to perform oral sex on him in a shower is expected to begin the fourth day of the Sandusky trial on Thursday with testimony about that night.

Jay Witherite, a veteran maintenance man in the campus' football building, is expected to be called by the prosecution to help corroborate the story of his colleague, Ronald Petrosky, who testified Wednesday about the incident.

Both men were cleaning the building when a third janitor, James Calhoun, told them he saw Sandusky with a young boy in the shower, the boy pressed up against the wall, "licking" Sandusky's genitals.

The boy, who has never been identified, is one of 10 alleged victims that Sandusky is accused of molesting over a 15-year period.  He is charged with 52 counts of sex abuse and could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted.

The graphic testimony that has been the hallmark of the trial will continue as the final three accusers are called on Thursday and Friday to give their accounts of the sexual abuse allegedly suffered at the hands of Sandusky, 68, the former Penn State football coach.  He is accused of starting a charity for underprivileged boys and then using the charity to select boys to molest.

The accuser known as Victim 6, who prompted an investigation into Sandusky's behavior in 1998, is expected to testify about showering with Sandusky.  The coach allegedly bear-hugged the boy while the two were naked, a description that has been shared by other alleged victims in prior testimony.

The investigation into Victim 6's account never led to charges against Sandusky, which could offer the defense attorneys an opportunity to claim that the accusation was already found to be baseless.

Two other men known as Victim 3 and Victim 9 are also expected to testify on Thursday.  Victim 3 is expected to recount an episode of uncomfortable showering with Sandusky, and Victim 9 is likely to describe repeated sexual abuse in Sandusky's basement, where he once allegedly yelled for the help of Sandusky's wife, but was ignored.

Sandusky has denied all of the accusations of sexual misconduct, and his attorney, Joseph Amendola, has been charged with the task of discrediting the eight accusers and other witnesses the state has called.

Amendola has persistently gone after the inconsistencies in witness stories, pointing out during each cross-examination that some of the alleged victims told investigators one story, the grand jury another story, and the courtroom this week a third version of the story.

But some witnesses, including Mike McQueary and the man known as Victim 5 who testified on Wednesday, were unshakable in their accounts.

The prosecution is expected to rest their case on Friday.  Sandusky's defense team will then have their chance to call witnesses, likely including Sandusky's wife, Dottie, as well as a family friend of Mike McQueary's who is expected to contradict McQueary's claim that he did not witness sex on the night he walked into the showers where Sandusky and a boy were naked together.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun132012

Alleged Victim Says He Was Twice Threatened by Jerry Sandusky

Rob Carr/Getty Images(BELLEFONTE, Pa.) -- Former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky twice threatened an 11-year-old boy over oral sex, once telling the frightened kid he would "never see my family again" if he spoke about the alleged assault, a witness testified Wednesday in the sex abuse trial.

The witness, who is now 25 and identified by ABC News only as Victim 10, told the court that he was in Sandusky's basement in 1998 when they were wrestling and the "defendant pinned me to the ground and pulled my shorts down and started performing oral sex on me," he said.

"I freaked out.  I was scared," Victim 10 testified.  The witness said the alleged assault lasted "a couple of minutes."

"He then went back upstairs.  He told me if I told anyone that I would never see my family again," the witness said.

Sandusky later returned to the basement.  "He apologized for saying that and that he didn't mean it and that he loved me," Victim 10 said.

The witness said that on another occasion he was riding in Sandusky's car when the coach asked the boy to perform oral sex on him, and the boy refused.

"He got displeased with what I told him.  He made a threat to me," Victim 10 testified, and said he then carried out the sex act that Sandusky allegedly demanded.

Victim 10, who was living in a foster home at the time, was the third adult to describe in wrenching detail alleged sex assaults carried out by Sandusky on young boys.  The former Penn State assistant coach is charged with 52 counts of sex abuse stemming from 10 alleged victims.  Sandusky, 68, could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted of the charges.

Victim 10 said that during his second year at the Second Mile summer camp, Sandusky swam up between his legs, lifted the boy on his shoulders, and reached up under his shorts and fondled him.  The boy felt uncomfortable, but did not say anything.

Sandusky then began asking to hang out with the boy, taking him to football games and to his house, where he sexually assaulted the boy "at least five times," the man said.  The man's roommate at that camp is also an accuser in the case, according to testimony elicited by defense attorney Joseph Amendola, who tried to point to a relationship between the two victims and the possibility of collusion.  Victim 10 said he had not spoken to the other accuser in the past year.

Amendola also questioned Victim 10 about his criminal past, including a recent 23-month stint in state prison for robbery of an "older gentleman," and an earlier theft conviction which Victim 10 confirmed.  He said he is now married and expecting his first child.  He also said he was not represented by any private attorney, upon Amendola's questioning.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun122012

Jerry Sandusky Expected to Face Victim 1 in Sex Abuse Trial

Patrick Smith/Getty Images(BELLEFONTE, Pa.) -- A recent high school graduate who, as a freshman, made accusations of sexual abuse against Jerry Sandusky is expected to testify on Tuesday about how the former Penn State football coach molested him in his basement during sleepovers.

The young man known as Victim 1, who graduated high school earlier this month, prompted the three-year investigation into Sandusky after telling his mother in 2008 that he wanted to look up "ex weirdos" online because of Sandusky.  The then-freshman and his mother reported allegations of abuse to his high school, which notified authorities.  The prosecution might call school officials or investigators on Tuesday to support Victim 1's testimony.

The widespread investigation launched after Victim 1's report resulted in 52 charges of child sex abuse for Sandusky, stemming from the complaints of eight accusers and two eyewitness accounts.  Defense attorney Joseph Amendola said on Monday that Sandusky has always maintained his innocence, and that the alleged victims were likely lying for financial gain.

A wrestling coach at Victim 1's high school returned to a small, secluded wrestling room late one school night and found Sandusky and Victim 1 lying on the floor facing one another, according to the grand jury report.  Sandusky told the coach that they were working on wrestling moves, although Sandusky was not a wrestling coach.

Victim 1's testimony is expected to reiterate the pattern of abuse introduced by the man known as Victim 4 on Monday, who described Sandusky placing his hand on the boy's knee, rubbing his stomach and blowing on his stomach, and starting soap fights in the showers of the Penn State locker rooms after workouts that quickly turned into sexual assaults.

Sandusky, 68, showed little emotion during testimony Monday, shaking his head once when the accuser said that Sandusky offered him a walk-on spot on the Nittany Lions football team.

The prosecution is expected to call six more alleged victims to the stand during the trial, in addition to key witness Mike McQueary, who alleges that he saw Sandusky rape a boy in the football locker room showers.

Sandusky himself might take the stand in his own defense, according to statements made by Amendola during opening statements Monday.

"It was routine for people to get in the showers in Jerry's culture," Amendola said.  "He's going to tell you later, it was routine for individuals to take showers together."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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