A former Penn State assistant coach who was a central figure in Joe Paterno's downfall testified Tuesday that he heard a "skin-on-skin smacking sound" in a campus locker room one night in 2001 and saw something that was "more than my brain could handle."
Mike McQueary, one of the star witnesses in the child sexual abuse case against Jerry Sandusky, said he had no doubt he was witnessing Sandusky sexually assaulting a young boy. He testified that he slammed his locker shut loudly as if to say, "Someone's here! Break it up!"
Then, he said, he went upstairs to his office to try to make sense of what he had seen.
Sandusky, 68, is on trial on charges he molested 10 boys over a 15-year period. Authorities say he abused them in hotels, at his home and inside the football team's quarters. The former assistant coach and founder of an acclaimed youth charity has denied the allegations.
Paterno was fired last fall, shortly after Sandusky's arrest, when it became known that McQueary had told the head football coach about the shower episode a decade ago. Two months after his dismissal, Paterno died of lung cancer at 85.
McQueary's account differed little from the one he gave in December at a preliminary hearing for two Penn State administrators charged with failing to report the shower episode to authorities. One difference: He said it took place in 2001 instead of 2002.
Sandusky attorney Karl Rominger pressed McQueary during cross-examination about discrepancies in his estimate of the boy's age.
McQueary replied: "If (you) want to argue about 9, 10, 11, 12 the fact is he had sex with a minor, a boy."
McQueary said he went to Paterno's house the next morning and relayed what he had seen, but did not describe the act explicitly out of respect for the coach and his own embarrassment.
He said Penn State administrator Tim Curley called him a week later, and McQueary met with him and another school official, Gary Schultz. They "just listened to what I had said," McQueary testified. A week or two later, he said, Curley called him to say they had looked into it.
Earlier Tuesday, the teenager who triggered the grand jury investigation that rocked Penn State became the second of the alleged victims to take the stand.