HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — For nearly a year, the young man whose claims of abuse triggered the molestation investigation into Jerry Sandusky was known publicly as “Victim 1.”
On Friday, Aaron Fisher put aside anonymity to speak by name about his ordeal, saying he had contemplated suicide because authorities took so long to prosecute the former Penn State assistant football coach.
“Victim means people feel sympathy for you, I don’t want that,” Fisher said in an interview with on ABC’s “20/20.” ”I would rather be somebody that did something good.”
Fisher first reported the abuse in 2008, but he said the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office told him it needed more victims before Sandusky would be charged. Sandusky was not arrested until last November.
The delay, Fisher said, made him increasingly desperate.
“I thought maybe it would be easier to take myself out of the equation,” he told ABC. “Let somebody else deal with it.”
Fisher, now 18, testified as Victim 1 at Sandusky’s trial. He, his mother and his psychologist have co-written a forthcoming book about his ordeal. Sandusky was convicted in June of abusing Fisher and nine other boys, and was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison.
Fisher told jurors that Sandusky approached him through a summer camp for youth sponsored by The Second Mile, a charity for at-risk youth the former coach had founded.
Physical contact began with a hand on his leg in the car, Fisher said, and he began spending nights at the Sandusky home in State College, about 30 miles from his own home in Lock Haven, when he was 11 years old. Kissing and back rubbing during those overnight visits progressed to oral sex. He said he tried to distance himself from Sandusky, to no avail.
Fisher was 15 when he and his mother eventually reported the abuse to the school principal, who responded that “Jerry has a heart of gold and that he wouldn’t do those type of things,” Fisher told ABC, repeating his trial testimony.
“They tell me to go home and think about it,” his mother, Dawn Daniels, told ABC.
School officials reported Sandusky to Clinton County Children and Youth Services, which began an investigation and brought in state police.
The Associated Press typically does not name sexual abuse victims, unless they identify themselves publicly, as Fisher has done.
Sandusky defense lawyer Joe Amendola, at a legal seminar in Wilmington, Del., said Fisher and other victims were motivated by money, a claim he has repeatedly made.
“These accusers could have financial motives, and they could have been abused,” Amendola said. “They’re not mutually exclusive.”
On Thursday, Amendola filed a 31-page document in the case that is the first step in Sandusky’s effort to overturn his conviction, contending there wasn’t enough evidence against him and the trial wasn’t fair. The post-sentencing motions attacked rulings by the judge, the closing argument by the prosecution and the speed by which he went from arrest to trial.
Sandusky, 68, wants the charges tossed out “and/or” a new trial, saying the statute of limitations had run out for many of the 45 counts for which he was convicted in June. Currently in a county jail near State College, he is awaiting transfer to the state prison system to begin serving a 30- to 60-year sentence.
Fisher and seven other young men testified against him in June, describing a range of abuse they said included fondling and oral and anal sex when they were boys.
The abuse scandal rocked Penn State, bringing down longtime coach Joe Paterno and the university’s president and leading the NCAA, college sports’ governing body, to levy unprecedented sanctions against the university’s football program.
Associated Press writer Maryclaire Dale in Wilmington, Del., contributed to this report.