The boy who first came forward to accuse former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky of sexual assault has been harassed so intensely that he had to leave high school, prompting ousted coach Joe Paterno to speak out against bullying.
The mother of the alleged victim, who set off the investigation that has rocked the world of college sports and led to 40 counts of child sexual assault against Sandusky, told ABC News that students at her son's high school blame him for triggering the sex abuse scandal that led to the firing of Paterno, the beloved head coach who oversaw the university's Nittany Lions football team for 46 years.
Speaking exclusively with "Good Morning America," the attorney representing Paterno said that the former coach denounces bullying, and called for respect in the name of the school.
"Coach Paterno strongly condemns harassment or bullying of any kind, and he asks anyone who truly cares about Penn State to conduct themselves honorably and with respect for others," attorney J. Sedgwick Sollers told ABC News.
Paterno had previously called for a prayer for the victims of abuse in the wake of the scandal breaking. He hasn't spoken publically since his ouster from the school and is reportedly battling lung cancer.
Psychologist Mike Gillum has been counseling the unnamed young man, who is referred to as Victim 1 in the Sandusky case grand jury report, for the past three years while the case was being investigated. He said that scorn and bullying can be a major concern for victims of abuse.
"It's very scary," Gillum told "GMA" this morning when discussing the state of mind of someone who's come forward after being victimized for years.
"You wonder what kind of push-back or what kind of reaction and how far that reaction might go in terms of people in the community. Will people threaten you? How hostile will things become?" he said.
Victim 1, who according to his testimony was 11 or 12 years old when he was first sexually abused by the 67-year-old former defensive coach, has been accused of changing his story as the case evolved. Sandusky's defense attorney has already publically said he's going to go after the credibility of the boy's story based on the fact that his statements escalated.
But Gillum says that victims of abuse often take time to reveal the full details of what happened.
"The level of humiliation, the level of insight into how deviant what's occurred is, means that they're not going to reveal that until they really feel comfortable," he said. "And that may take months, that might take a year or two."
According to the grand jury report, Victim 1 suffered sexual abuse while he would stay overnight at Sandusky's home, in a bedroom in the coach's finished basement, and at least once in his school gymnasium, where Sandusky would volunteer. The boy originally met Sandusky through The Second Mile program for at-risk youth, which was founded by the coach.
Regardless of the bullying he has experienced at school and the intimidation of facing Sandusky and his defense attorney, the boy is ready to have his day in court.
"He knows what happened … he knows how he was treated," Gillum said. "And he's willing to say that in a court of law without hesitation.
- Joe Paterno