BELLEFONTE, Pa. (AP) — A man testified Thursday that Jerry Sandusky called himself the "tickle monster" and embraced the then-11-year-old boy in a Penn State shower in 1998, an encounter that prompted an investigation but ultimately ended without any charges being filed.
The then-district attorney's decision not to bring charges against the Penn State assistant football coach was a mistake, an investigator testified.
The now-25-year-old alleged victim told jurors Sandusky embraced him in a locker room shower, lathered up his back and shoulders then lifted him chest-to-chest to a shower head to rinse out his hair.
The man said the shared shower happened after a brief workout at a campus gym — even though he hadn't broken a sweat. His mother went to authorities when she saw her son come home with wet hair, although the inquiry spawned by her report didn't lead to any charges.
One of the investigators who interviewed the boy and Sandusky at the time, Ronald Schreffler, told the court he thought charges were warranted but that the district attorney, Ray Gricar, disagreed.
Gricar cannot explain his decision — he disappeared in 2005 and was later declared legally dead.
The man who testified about the shower encounter is identified by prosecutors as Victim 6, and he is the sixth accuser to testify at Sandusky's sex abuse trial.
The ex-coach faces 52 criminal counts involving alleged assaults of 10 boys over a 15-year span. He denies the charges, which brought disgrace to Penn State and led to the ouster of both the school's president and Hall of Fame football coach Joe Paterno.
On cross-examination, the man testified that in recent years he and Sandusky exchanged text messages, sent notes for holidays and special occasions and last summer met for lunch. He also told the court that Sandusky and his wife, Dottie, had supported a mission trip he took to Mexico.
When asked why he had decided to testify against Sandusky, the witness said he had been approached by investigators and asked to think more about the 1998 encounter.
"As I started to go over it in my mind I quickly realized, my perception changed thinking about it as an adult as opposed to an 11-year-old," he said. "That was inappropriate, what happened to me."
Asked if he was looking for financial benefit from coming forward, the man replied, "Zero."
Schreffler, a former Penn State police officer who now works for the Department of Homeland Security, said he overheard Sandusky tell to alleged victim's mother that he wished he was dead as investigators listened in on a conversation set up for the woman to confront him.
During his cross-examination, Sandusky's attorney presented a transcript of an interview with the accuser in which the boy said there was no sexual contact in the shower.
Gricar was last seen April 15, 2005, about nine months before he was to retire as district attorney, after telling his girlfriend he was going for a drive. His car later was found abandoned at an antiques market.
Gricar's laptop was found three months later in the nearby Susquehanna River, without its hard drive, which was found separately — and upriver — that October. Investigators later said Gricar had done searches on another computer about how to destroy a hard drive, without explaining why that might be relevant to his disappearance.
The trial is in its fourth day and jurors have heard from young men who claim Sandusky had inappropriate contact with them, sometimes at his State College home or in the showers of a campus locker room.
Testimony through the first three days of the trial painted Sandusky as a man who used his fame as a top assistant to Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno to hold sway over boys.