Among the opening statements and graphic accounts of abuse by a witness on the first day in the trial of ex-Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was a small bit of testimony that hit home for a former Nittany Lions football star.
During his testimony on Monday, the accuser described as "Victim 4" in the initial grand jury report, recounted a visit to the Penn State football locker room when Sandusky took a jersey out of LaVar Arrington's locker and let him wear it. Victim 4 also testified that Sandusky took pictures of him in the jersey of the team's former star. Arrington played at Penn State from 1997-99 before going on to a career in the NFL.
Later that day, Arrington commented on the testimony on Twitter. Ultimately, the testimony had such a profound impact on the former NFL linebacker that he opted to write an article that appeared in the Washington Post on Tuesday. Arrington, who was among Sandusky's most talented pupils, recalled interacting with "Victim 4' during his time at Penn State.
He’s 28 now, but I can recall seeing him around all the time when he was a kid, and I built a relationship with him. I always enjoyed interacting with kids. As time went on, I knew he looked up to me and was a big fan, and I made a point of stopping to talk with him. I’d ask him the usual questions: ‘How are you?’ ‘How’s school?’ He always seemed mad or kind of distant. I remember distinctly asking him: “Why are you always walking around all mad, like a tough guy?”
Expressing shock that the sort of abuse recounted in the court could have been happening during that time, Arrington went as far as to apologize to Victim 4 for not being able to recognize any potential warning signs.
My anguish and disappointment doesn’t compare to that of the victims. All I can do is hope that Victim #4 finds this entry and can see that I’m offering my sincerest apologies. I am so sorry this happened.
Victim 4 is one of the 10 boys Sandusky allegedly sexually assaulted over a 15-year span. According to the grand jury report released in November 2011 after Sandusky's first arrest, Victim 4 met Sandusky at age 12 or 13 through The Second Mile, a charity established in 1977 by the coach. Victim 4 was also said to be listed as a member of Sandusky's family party for the 1998 Outback Bowl and 1999 Alamo Bowl.
Shortly after Sandusky's initial arrest in November 2011, Arrington spoke at length about the situation on the radio and penned another piece for the Washington Post about his conflicted feelings as a proud former PSU player and a parent.