BELLEFONTE, Pennsylvania (AP) — Lawyers for one of Jerry Sandusky's adopted sons said Thursday that the man has told authorities the former Penn State assistant football coach abused him. The announcement marked the latest, shocking twist in a case that has captivated Americans and marred the reputation of a beloved institution.
The lawyers issued a statement naming Matt Sandusky, one of Jerry Sandusky's six adopted children, and saying that the 33-year-old had been prepared to testify on behalf of prosecutors at his father's sex abuse trial.
The statement was issued after jurors in the ex-coach's child sex abuse trial began deliberating 48 charges against him. The jury talked about the case for more than eight hours before stopping at about 9:30 p.m. They were to resume Friday morning.
"During the trial, Matt Sandusky contacted us and requested our advice and assistance in arranging a meeting with prosecutors to disclose for the first time in this case that he is a victim of Jerry Sandusky's abuse," Andrew Shubin and Justine Andronici wrote in the statement. "At Matt's request, we immediately arranged a meeting between him and the prosecutors and investigators."
Jerry Sandusky is accused of abusing 10 boys over 15 years in hotels, at his home and in the football team's showers. Prosecutors say he groomed boys he met through the charity he founded for at-risk youth.
The case has shaken one of the most prominent sports programs in the U.S. with a reputation for being honorable. Yet, when the allegations that Sandusky had molested boys began to emerge last year, so did concerns that they had been hushed up or ignored by university administrators to protect a storied sports program.
Lawyers for Matt and Jerry Sandusky and prosecutors did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
"This has been an extremely painful experience for Matt and he has asked us to convey his request that the media respect his privacy. There will be no further comment," Matt Sandusky's lawyers said in the statement.
Matt Sandusky went to live with Sandusky and his wife, Dottie, as a foster child and was adopted by them as an adult.
Shortly after the former coach's arrest in November, Matt Sandusky's ex-wife went to court to keep her former father-in-law away from their three young children. Jill Jones successfully obtained a restraining order forbidding the children from sleeping over at their grandparents' home.
At around the same time, details emerged that Matt Sandusky had attempted suicide just four months after first going to live with the couple in 1995. He had come into the home through The Second Mile charity, which Jerry Sandusky founded, and was first a foster child before being legally adopted.
During testimony last week, an accuser known as Victim 4 said Matt Sandusky was living at the Sandusky home at the time he stayed there overnight.
When asked by prosecutors whether Jerry Sandusky ever engaged him in a soap battle in the showers, he recounted the time when he and Matt Sandusky had been playing racket ball. After they were done, he said, they went back to a locker room. Matt got undressed and got into the shower and then Victim 4 and Sandusky followed him in there, he testified.
"Me and Jerry came in. He started pumping his hand full of soap," he said.
At that point, Matt shut off his shower and left and went to another locker room to shower, the witness said.
Asked by prosecutors about Matt's facial expression when the soap battles started, he replied: "Nervous."
Jurors began their deliberations Thursday after prosecutors described him as a serial molester who groomed his victims, while his defense lawyer said the former Penn State assistant football coach was being victimized by an overzealous prosecution and greedy accusers.
Prosecutors said Sandusky was "a serial, predatory pedophile" who used gifts and the pageantry of Penn State's vaunted football program to lure and abuse vulnerable boys who came from troubled homes.
"What you should do is come out and say to the defendant that he molested and abused and give them back their souls," Senior Deputy Attorney General Joseph McGettigan III. "I give them to you. Acknowledge and give them justice."
Standing behind Sandusky, McGettigan implored the jury to convict him
"He molested and abused and hurt these children horribly," McGettigan said. "He knows he did it, and you know he did it.
"Find him guilty of everything."
Sandusky's attorney said the 68-year-old former coach was being victimized by investigators who led accusers into making false claims about a generous man whose charity gave them much-needed love.
"They went after him, and I submit to you they were going to get him hell or high water, even if they had to coach witnesses," Amendola said in a sometimes angry closing argument.
If convicted, Sandusky could spend the rest of his life in state prison.