BELLEFONTE, Pa. -- Jerry Sandusky's trial in the Penn State scandal opened in graphic fashion Monday with the first witness testifying that the retired coach molested him in the locker-room showers and in hotels while trying to ensure his silence with gifts and trips to bowl games.

The man, now 28 and dubbed Victim 4 in court papers, left nothing to the imagination as he told the jury about the abuse he said he endured for five years beginning when he was a teenager in the late 1990s.

"I've denied it forever," he testified, looking straight at the prosecutor as Sandusky sat motionless nearby.

Sandusky, 68, faces 52 counts that he sexually abused 10 boys over 15 years. The former assistant football coach has denied the allegations. His arrest last year shamed the university and led to the ouster of beloved Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno and Penn State's president.

In opening statements, prosecutor Joseph McGettigan III told the jury that Sandusky was a "predatory pedophile" who methodically used his youth charity, The Second Mile, to zero in on fatherless children or those with unstable home lives, plied them with gifts and took advantage of them sexually.

Sandusky lawyer Joe Amendola countered that the case is flimsy and that some of the accusers apparently intend to sue and have a financial stake in the case - a preview of the battle to come as the defense tries to undermine the credibility of the young men upon whom the case rests.

Until Monday, none of them had testified publicly, and their identities were shielded. The Associated Press typically doesn't identify people who say they are victims of sex crimes.

Victim 4 spoke calmly and firmly under questioning by the prosecutor and acknowledged he had at first lied to police and even his own attorney about the alleged abuse.

"I don't even want to be involved now, to be honest," he said.

In the car, Sandusky "would put his hand on my leg, basically like I was his girlfriend. ... It freaked me out extremely bad," the man said, extending his arm and pushing it back and forth. "I pushed it away. ... After a little while, it would come right back. That drove me nuts."

The man said he met Sandusky through The Second Mile and that they began showering together in 1997. What began as "soap battles" quickly progressed to oral sex and other contact, the accuser said, adding that he was 90 or 100 pounds and powerless to resist the advances of the much larger man.

According to the witness, Sandusky tried assaulting him in a hotel bathroom before a bowl banquet in Texas and threatened to send him home when he resisted, warning: "You don't want to go back, do you?" Sandusky stopped only when his wife, Dottie, called out from another room, the witness said.

Over the years, the witness said, he never told Sandusky to stop.

"It was never talked about, ever," the man said. "It was basically like whatever happened there never really happened."

A self-described college football fan, the man said he enjoyed the access to Penn State football games and facilities. The man said Sandusky let him wear the No. 11 uniform of LaVar Arrington.

The man testified that Sandusky also took him on trips to bowl games, including the Outback and the Alamo. He gave the boy golf clubs, snowboards, drum sets and various Penn State memorabilia, including a watch from the Orange Bowl, the man testified. He said he would wear gift jerseys to school.

The witness said Sandusky occasionally sent him "creepy love letters."

One letter, shown on a video screen in court, was handwritten on Penn State letterhead and signed "Jerry." It read: "I know that I have made my share of mistakes. However I hope that I will be able to say that I cared. There has been love in my heart."

Eventually, as the man got older and acquired a girlfriend, he became "basically sick of what was happening to me" and distanced himself from Sandusky. They had not spoken since 2002 when, in 2010, he took his girlfriend and 3-year-old son to visit the Sanduskys in what he said was an attempt to convince his girlfriend her suspicions about Sandusky were not true.

He said that "backfired" when Sandusky gave him a lot of attention and tried to rub his shoulders.

Under cross-examination by Amendola, the man expressed regret for not coming forward earlier, saying: "I feel if I just said something back then ... I feel responsible for what happened to other victims." He said he had spent years "burying this in the back of my head."

During his opening statement, Amendola said Sandusky's showering with children was innocuous and part of his upbringing.

"In Jerry's culture, growing up in his generation, where he grew up, he's going to tell you it was routine for individuals to get showers together," the lawyer said. "I suspect for those of you who might have been in athletics, it's routine."

Amendola also said that Mike McQueary, the football team assistant who reported seeing Sandusky naked in a shower with a boy in 2001, was mistaken about what he saw.

"We don't think that he lied. What we think is that he saw something and made assumptions," the lawyer told the jury.

Amendola also said that at least six of the accusers have civil lawyers, adding: "These young men had a financial interest in this case and pursuing this case."

___

Associated Press writer Michael Rubinkam contributed to this report.

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  • Jerry Sandusky

    Role: Former assistant football coach and founder of The Second Mile charity for children, accused of molesting boys over a 15-year period. Background: Arrested in November after a long investigation by a statewide grand jury. He had been a very successful defensive coach for the Nittany Lions for 30 years, and prosecutors say he used his fame in the community to attract victims. Charges: Involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, indecent assault of a young child, unlawful contact with minors, corruption of minors, endangering the welfare of children. Status: Awaits trial, with jury selection scheduled for Tuesday.

  • Dottie Sandusky

    Role: Married to Jerry Sandusky. Background: Dottie Sandusky has stood by her husband, posting his bail, accompanying him to court proceedings and issuing a statement in December that proclaimed his innocence and said accusers were making up stories. She is not charged.

  • Tim Curley

    Role: Penn State athletic director, on leave while he fights criminal charges for actions related to the Sandusky scandal. Background: Curley fielded a complaint about Sandusky in a team shower with a boy in early 2001, and told a grand jury he instructed Sandusky not to be inside Penn State athletic facilities with any young people. Charges: Failure to properly report suspected child abuse and perjury for lying to the grand jury. He's not on trial with Sandusky, denies the allegations and is seeking to have the charges dismissed.

  • Gary Schultz

    Role: Penn State vice president for business and finance, now retired. Background: Schultz told the grand jury that head coach Joe Paterno and assistant Mike McQueary reported the 2001 shower incident "in a very general way" but did not provide details. Charges: Failure to properly report suspected child abuse and perjury for lying to the grand jury. He's not on trial with Sandusky, denies the allegations and is seeking to have the charges dismissed.

  • Mike McQueary

    Role: Assistant Penn State football coach. Was a graduate assistant in 2001, when he says he witnessed Jerry Sandusky and a boy naked together in a team shower. McQueary took his complaint to Paterno, who alerted university administrators. Background: McQueary testified at a court hearing in December that he "believed Jerry was sexually molesting" the boy and "having some type of intercourse with him."

  • Joe Amendola

    Role: Defense attorney for Jerry Sandusky. Background: Amendola has been second-guessed for allowing Sandusky to go on network television and speak at length with a reporter for The New York Times after his arrest. Has won several legal battles for Sandusky, including getting him released on bail and fighting the prosecution's effort to have the case heard by a jury from outside the State College area. His office is in State College.

  • Karl Rominger

    Role: Another defense attorney for Jerry Sandusky. Background: Rominger suggested in media interviews that Sandusky might have been teaching "basic hygiene skills" to some of the youths, such as how to put soap on their bodies. His office is in Carlisle.

  • Joseph McGettigan III

    Role: Lead prosecutor. Background: McGettigan, currently senior deputy attorney general, is a veteran prosecutor with stints in the Philadelphia and Delaware County district attorneys' offices and the U.S. attorney's office. McGettigan prosecuted John du Pont, the chemical fortune heir who killed an Olympic gold medal-winning wrestler at his palatial estate in 1996. He's known as an aggressive, feisty lawyer.

  • John Cleland

    Role: Judge presiding over Sandusky's trial. Background: Cleland is a semi-retired senior judge from McKean County in western Pennsylvania. Known as courteous and fair-minded, Cleland previously chaired a state panel that investigated a nationally reported scandal in Luzerne County involving the trading of juvenile-detention suspects for cash.

  • Joe Paterno

    Role: The longtime football coach was told by McQueary in 2001 that he saw Sandusky and Victim No. 2 in a shower on the Penn State campus and, in turn, told Curley and Schultz. Background: The head coach at Penn State from 1966 through 2011, and major college football's winningest, he offered to resign at the end of the 2011 season amid the uproar after Sandusky's arrest Nov. 6. The Penn State Board of Trustees, however, ousted him for what was called his "failure of leadership" surrounding allegations about Sandusky. He died of lung cancer Jan. 22.

  • Sue Paterno

    Role: Married to Paterno for almost 50 years, she raised five children with him and passionately defended her husband during the scandal and after he died. It's unclear whether she might testify.

  • Tom Corbett

    Role: Now the governor of Pennsylvania, he was attorney general when the investigation into Sandusky was launched by state prosecutors. Background: Corbett is an ex-officio member of the Penn State Board of Trustees, although he did not actively participate until after Sandusky was charged in December.

  • Linda Kelly

    Role: Pennsylvania attorney general, whose office is prosecuting Sandusky. Background: A career prosecutor in the Pittsburgh area, Kelly inherited the Sandusky probe from Corbett when she was confirmed as his temporary successor as attorney general. She leaves office in January.

  • Frank Noonan

    Role: Pennsylvania State Police commissioner. Background: Noonan garnered national attention two days after Sandusky's arrest when he criticized Paterno, a Penn State and sports icon, for failing his "moral responsibility" to do more when McQueary told him of the 2001 shower incident.

  • Jack Raykovitz

    Role: Former CEO of The Second Mile, the charity Jerry Sandusky founded. Background: Raykovitz led the charity for almost 30 years and was a longtime friend of Sandusky's. Raykovitz testified before the grand jury that recommended indicting Sandusky on child abuse charges. He resigned from The Second Mile soon after the scandal broke, and board members later complained that Raykovitz hadn't told them enough about earlier allegations against Sandusky.

*captions via AP