HARRISBURG, Pa. — Hearing the first victim to take the witness stand against Jerry Sandusky helped push the former Penn State coach’s adopted son Matthew to come forward with his own allegations of abuse, he said in a television interview.
Matthew Sandusky said in a Thursday broadcast of “Oprah Prime” that he recognized elements of his own abuse when he sat through testimony by a young man described in court as Victim 4, someone he knew better than any of the other seven who testified at the trial. Jerry Sandusky was convicted of various types of abuse involving 10 boys, including all eight who testified.
“But his story isn’t his story — it’s my story,” Matthew Sandusky told Oprah Winfrey about Victim 4. “At this point, that’s where the door really opened up and it kind of just hit me from every single detail that this man is talking about.”
He said he wonders if it wouldn’t have been easier to simply keep quiet and not turn against his adoptive father, knowing it would alienate family members who helped him in many ways over the years.
Winfrey asked him how people can know that what he’s saying is the truth and not an adaptation of Victim 4’s experience.
“I would say my story has been well-documented,” he said. “And if you really want to find out what my story is and you really can objectively look at it, it’s in the record.”
Matthew Sandusky said his sexual abuse at his adoptive father’s hands consisted of oral sex, a more serious allegation than he made to detectives two years ago.
He said Jerry Sandusky would tickle him, blow on his belly and wrestle on the floor, and the encounters would gradually become more sexual.
“Then it’s, then as I now know, it’s oral sex,” he told Winfrey. “He’s doing that to you and it’s very confusing, it’s very confusing for you because you have a reaction, you know. It’s something that you at that time you definitely don’t know what’s happening.”
The claim of oral sex was specifically denied in an audiotape of his 29-minute interview with police detectives that NBC obtained at the time of Jerry Sandusky’s 2012 trial.
Matt Sandusky told investigators two years ago that Jerry Sandusky had rubbed along or against his genitals but that he did not recall any penetration or oral sex. He said then that he was getting therapy and memories were coming back to him.
He told police he came forward to correct the record from his own grand jury testimony. He was not called to testify in court, and Jerry Sandusky has not been charged with any crime in relation to his adopted son.
He told Winfrey that at bedtime in the Sandusky’s home in State College, Jerry Sandusky’s “ritual” began.
“The overnight visits were — they were good. I mean, except for that one part, bedtime. Bedtime was the bad part. But any other time that we were in the home, that we were doing anything in the home with the family, it was fine,” he said.
Matthew Sandusky said he believes that Jerry Sandusky does not think he harmed him or any of the other boys.
“I think that he believes, the things that he was doing to us, that was love to him,” he told Winfrey. “That was him taking care of us. That was him being there for us when no other person would have been. So in his own — to me — warped way, I truly believe that he believed that he cared and that he was loving us.”
Jerry Sandusky, once Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno’s assistant and heir apparent at Penn State University, is currently serving a 30- to 60-year sentence. He has lost an appeal to the state Supreme Court but maintains he is innocent.
Matt Sandusky is among those who have shared in $60 million worth of civil settlements with Penn State.