LOCK HAVEN — Jerry Sandusky walked out of the Centre County courthouse Friday night a guilty man.
His conviction came nearly four years after Clinton County Children and Youth Services case worker Jessica Dersham and psychologist Michael Gillum first started investigating a claim of abuse.
“It was nice to see this end like this. There are many times when I do an investigation and we believe that there was abuse, but there may not be enough for police to file charges,” said Dersham
Victim one is the 18-year-old from Lock Haven who cried on the stand telling about repeated abuse.
He was a freshman at Central Mountain High School when he told Gillum and Dersham he was a victim. The Sandusky investigation grew from there.
“It was difficult for victim one to remain calm, as all this time was going by. All victims tend to have a lot of fears about what the perpetrators might do to you having told on him. You have a lot of fear about that, a lot of anxiety about that. You have a lot of anxiety about people finding out who you are,” said Gillum.
Victim 1 testified that when he first told a guidance counselor at Central Mountain High School he was abused, he was told to think hard about coming forward because Sandusky had a “heart of gold”. The school district superintendent didn’t return a call for comment.
The teen’s psychologist says he even left school because he was bullied. Shortly after the arrest, many people were more angry about the effect on Penn State than the abuse the victims endured. Now Gillum said there is a different story, the teen is being praised.
“He’s done relatively well with all the pressure that has been upon him and he has felt very good about being brave enough to come forward and he realizes that he’s prevented this man from preying on other children. He’s the reason it all stopped,” said Gillum.
Gillum says this teen now gets letters of support, many calling him “Hero 1″, instead of “Victim 1.”
The 18-year-old is now in a video, helping the foundation “Let Go, Let Peace Come In” raise awareness about childhood sexual abuse, turning bad into good.
“I would like to help by talking to high school students about this. The majority happens in middle school going into high school. It’s better to let them know when their young. To let them understand it as well,” said the teen in the promotional video.
“I think he’s very courageous for what he did,” added Gillum. “A lot of people don’t have the courage to come out and talk about it. It says a lot about him and his strength. He’s kind of the one who started the whole thing and because he has come out about it others came out as well.”
Gillum said in Pennsylvania, there has been a spike in the number of victims coming forward saying they were abused as children ever since the Sandusky arrest. Victim 1 coming forward in this case has led to many others getting the courage to come forward in other cases, another reason Victim 1 is being called “Hero 1.”