|Mike McQueary testified at the trial about what he witnessed in the Penn State football shower. (Getty Images)|
HARRISBURG, Pa. -- He was the victim whose horrific assault in the football team showers wound up costing Joe Paterno his job, severely tarnished Penn State's image, and brought accusations of a cover-up by high-level university officials.
Law enforcement officials dubbed him Victim 2.
Until Thursday, the boy was a phantom, absent from last month's trial of retired defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky and thought to be unknown to prosecutors. His identity was one of the biggest mysteries of the child sex abuse scandal.
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Now, for the first time, a man has stepped forward to claim he was the boy in the shower, and his attorneys have promised to sue the university.
"Our client has to live the rest of his life not only dealing with the effects of Sandusky's childhood sexual abuse, but also with the knowledge that many powerful adults, including those at the highest levels of Penn State, put their own interests and the interests of a child predator above their legal obligations to protect him," the lawyers said in a news release.
Along with the statement, the lawyers released voicemails that Sandusky purportedly left for the man last fall -- less than two months before his arrest on child-molestation charges -- in which he expressed his love, said he wanted to share his feelings "up front," and asked whether Victim 2 would like to attend Penn State's next game.
The man's lawyers said Thursday they have done an extensive investigation and gathered "overwhelming evidence" on details of the abuse by Sandusky, who was convicted of using his position at Penn State and as head of a youth charity to molest 10 boys over a period of 15 years.
They did not name their client, and The Associated Press generally does not identify victims of sex crimes without their consent.
Jurors convicted Sandusky last month of offenses related to Victim 2 largely on the testimony of Mike McQueary, who was a team graduate assistant at the time and described seeing the 2001 assault.
McQueary testified at Sandusky's trial that he heard a "skin-on-skin smacking sound" in a campus locker room and saw something that was "more than my brain could handle" - a naked Sandusky standing behind the boy and slowly moving his hips. McQueary, one of the prosecution's star witnesses, said he had no doubt he was witnessing anal sex.
McQueary reported the abuse to school officials, including Paterno, but none of them told police. An investigative report commissioned by the school's board of trustees found that Paterno and other administrators concealed the attack because they were afraid of bad publicity.
Trustees fired Paterno, who has since died, because he failed to do more about claims against Sandusky. The NCAA this week fined Penn State $60 million, imposed a four-year bowl ban, reduced the number of football scholarships Penn State is allowed to offer, and vacated 112 of the team's victories.
"Jerry Sandusky's abuse of Victim 2 and other children is a direct result of a conspiracy to conceal Sandusky's conduct and the decisions by top Penn State officials that facilitated and enabled his access to victims," the statement from Victim 2's lawyers said. "We intend to file a civil lawsuit against Penn State University and others and to hold them accountable for the egregious and reckless conduct that facilitated the horrific abuse our client suffered."
The statement also said that Victim 2 suffered "extensive sexual abuse over many years," both before and after the 2001 assault.
But it left many questions unanswered, chief among them whether Victim 2 talked to prosecutors either before or during the trial - and, if not, why not.
The man's lawyers said they would have no further comment, and several messages seeking comment from Sandusky's lawyers were not returned.
Prosecutors had said on several occasions they did not know the identity of the boy, and they offered no reaction to the lawyers' announcement Thursday.
"We can't comment, given both our ongoing criminal prosecutions and our ongoing investigation," said Nils Frederiksen, spokesman for the attorney general's office.
The university said it was taking the case seriously but would not comment on pending litigation.
University President Rodney Erickson and the board of trustees, a school spokesman said, "have publicly emphasized that their goal is to find solutions that rest on the principle of justice for the victims."