The Most Hated Man in America: Jerry Sandusky and the Rush to Judgment

The Most Hated Man in America: Jerry Sandusky and the Rush to Judgment

by Mark Pendergrast


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Everyone knows the story of Jerry Sandusky, the serial pedophile, the Monster. But what if that story is wrong? What if the former Penn State football coach and founder of the Second Mile is an innocent man convicted in the midst of a moral panic fed by the sensationalistic media, police trawling, and memory-warping psychotherapy? The Most Hated Man in America reads like a true crime psychological thriller and is required reading for everyone from criminologists to sports fans.

“If potential readers are convinced that Jerry Sandusky is guilty, they need to read The Most Hated Man in America. This meticulously researched, provocative, and wonderfully written book by Mark Pendergrast, an enormously important contributor to the repressed memory debate, will certainly make them see another side. Maybe they will think twice.”

-- Elizabeth Loftus, Distinguished Professor of Psychology & Social Behavior, University of California, Irvine, author, The Myth of Repressed Memory and other books.

The Most Hated Man in America tells a truly remarkable story. In all the media coverage the Sandusky case has received, it’s amazing that no one else has noticed or written about so many of these things, including all the ‘memories’ that were retrieved through therapy and litigation. One would think that the sheer insanity of so much of this will have to eventually come out.”

--Richard A. Leo, Hamill Family Professor of Law and Psychology, University of San Francisco, author, Police Interrogation and American Justice and The Wrong Guys: Murder, False Confessions, and the Norfolk Four

“Virtually everybody knows with certainty that Jerry Sandusky is a serial child molester. He was, after all, found guilty by a jury of his peers. But what if what we think we know about Sandusky is at least in some ways incorrect? Regardless of their ultimate conclusions, readers will find The Most Hated Man in America to be thoughtful and provocative, addressing questions that deserve to be asked in a just society.”

--Fred S. Berlin, M.D., Ph.D. Director, The Johns Hopkins Sexual Behavior Consultation Unit, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781620067659
Publisher: Sunbury Press, Inc.
Publication date: 11/15/2017
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 647,134
Product dimensions: 5.98(w) x 9.02(h) x 0.82(d)

About the Author

Independent scholar and science writer Mark Pendergrast is the author of many critically acclaimed, deeply researched works of non-fiction, including Memory Warp, The Repressed Memory Epidemic, Victims of Memory, Uncommon Grounds, Inside the Outbreaks, Mirror Mirror, and For God, Country and Coca-Cola, among others. He lives in Vermont and can be reached through his website,

Read an Excerpt


What Did Mike McQueary Hear and See?

Because there are so many alleged Sandusky victims, many of whom remain anonymous, it's important to look at how the first allegations against Sandusky developed. Let's look first at the infamous sodomy-in-the-shower scene, since that is usually regarded as the most compelling, horrifying evidence. I know that's what convinced me that Sandusky was guilty when I first heard about the case.

The Sandusky Grand Jury Presentment of November 5, 2011, a summary of secret grand jury testimony, stated that, on March 1, 2002, a Penn State graduate assistant (later identified as Mike McQueary) had gone to the Lasch Football Building at Penn State around 9:30 p.m. As he entered the locker room, he heard "rhythmic, slapping sounds" that sounded sexual to him. "He looked in the shower. He saw a naked boy, Victim 2, whose age he estimated to be ten years old, with his hands up against the wall, being subjected to anal intercourse by a naked Sandusky."

Because grand jury testimony is supposed to be secret, there is no available public transcript to show exactly what Mike McQueary said there, but it is clear from everything else he said about this incident, including his subsequent courtroom testimony, that he did not witness sodomy or any other form of sexual abuse that day in the Lasch locker room. His version of events morphed over time, but none of the narratives included witnessing overt sexual abuse.

Here's what appears to have happened. On a Friday night, February 9, 2001, a full year earlier than the inaccurate date in the Grand Jury Presentment, Jerry Sandusky was indeed taking a shower with a Second Mile boy in the locker room of the Lasch Football Building. Sandusky took it for granted that boys and men showered together after exercise. It was part of the way he was raised, an accepted part of the sports world. Though he had retired as a Penn State coach two years before, he could still use the facilities, and he sometimes brought the troubled Second Mile boys there for a workout, followed by a shower.

As he often did, Sandusky, whom everyone considered "a big kid" himself, was goofing around with the boy. They were snapping towels at each other, or perhaps slap boxing, according to both Sandusky and the boy in the shower. Mike McQueary, then twentysix, who had been a Penn State quarterback as an undergraduate, was halfway through his post-graduate education, while working as an assistant football coach. This Friday evening, he came to the Lasch building to retrieve tapes of possible recruits. On the way, he figured he might as well put his new shoes away in the locker room.

Before he opened the door to the locker room, McQueary heard slapping sounds. He thought they sounded sexual. As McQueary later put it when describing the scene, "Visualizations come to your head." By the time he got to his locker at the near end of the wall, it had quieted down. Curious, he looked obliquely into the shower room through a mirror across the room and caught a glimpse of a boy in the shower. Then an arm reached out and pulled the boy back. Horrified, he assumed that he had just overheard the sounds of child sexual abuse. After closing his locker, he saw Jerry Sandusky walk out of the shower. Was his former coach a pedophile?

McQueary quickly left the building and called his father, John McQueary, and told him his suspicions. His father advised him to come right over to talk about it. Then John McQueary called his employer and friend, Dr. Jonathan Dranov, a nephrologist, asking him to come over and help them sort out Mike's disturbing experience.

Dranov attempted, using the diagnostic and interviewing skills that he used with patients, to get a clear description of the scene that had so upset his friend's son. Dranov was unable to get Mike McQueary to put into words anything sexual he had seen, in spite of asking several times, "But what did you see?" McQueary explained that he had seen a boy in the shower, and that an arm had then reached out to pull him back. Dranov asked if the boy had looked scared or upset. No. Did Mike actually see any sexual act? No. McQueary kept returning to the "sexual" sounds.

Upon the advice of his father and Dr. Dranov, Mike McQueary took his concerns to legendary head coach Joe Paterno at his home the next day. Apparently because McQueary did not actually witness anything sexual, they did not suggest he contact the police, nor did they feel called upon to do so. This was the only initiative McQueary ever took connected with the shower incident. Paterno subsequently told his immediate supervisor, Athletic Director Tim Curley, about it, who told Vice President Gary Schultz and University President Graham Spanier. Curley and Schultz met with McQueary to hear what he had seen and heard. From that conversation, they concluded that Sandusky had been "horsing around" with a kid and that, while it was not sexual abuse, it wasn't a good idea, particularly because they remembered that a parent had complained back in 1998 about Sandusky showering with her child (details on that incident shortly). So Curley told Sandusky that as a result of someone (he didn't name McQueary) complaining about the shower incident, he should stop working out with Second Mile kids on campus, and there the matter was left, case closed.

McQueary apparently calmed down and accepted that he may have overreacted and that perhaps Sandusky had just been "horsing around." He remained at least overtly friendly with Jerry Sandusky over the following years. He signed up for the Sandusky Celebrity Golf Event in the fall of 2001, just four months after the shower incident, then took part in other Sandusky charity-related events, such as flag football fundraisers coached by Sandusky in March 2002 and April 2004 and another golf event in 2003. By the time the police questioned McQueary about the shower incident in late 2010, he couldn't remember exactly when it occurred, and he said that it happened during spring break of 2002, more than a year after the actual date. At the time, McQueary was a 6' 4", 220-pound twenty-six-year-old. Some critics would later question why, if he had witnessed horrifying child sexual abuse, he would not have rushed in to put a stop to the behavior.

McQueary's story changed several times after the police told him that they knew Sandusky was a pedophile, as we will see in Chapter 12. In response to the police telling him that Sandusky was a child molester, McQueary searched his decade-old memory and now "remembered" seeing something that he had not reported back in 2001 — that he had seen Sandusky with his hips moving against a boy's backside in the shower.

In short, Mike McQueary did not witness Jerry Sandusky sodomizing a ten-year-old boy in the shower, although he later came to believe that he had. At the time of the incident, he overheard slapping sounds and interpreted them as being sexual.

We know a great deal more about this incident because we know the identity of that boy, a Second Miler named Allan Myers, who was nearly fourteen years old at the time, not ten, and who remained friends with Sandusky until after the allegations created a public furor in November 2011. Sandusky later recalled that shower with Myers. "He [Allan] turned on every shower [and] he was like wild, he put soap on himself and was sliding, he was seeing how far he could slide. I remember that. Then we may have been like slapping towels, slap boxing, doing something like that." He laughed, remembering that "he (Allan) always, no matter what, he'd always get the last lick in."

Recalling his relationship with Allan Myers, Sandusky said, "He was like family. We did all kinds of things together. We studied. We tutored. We worked out. He went to California with my wife and me twice. He spoke for the Second Mile numerous times." This all took place after the 2001 shower incident. "He asked me to speak at his high school graduation, and I did. He stayed with us the summer after his high school graduation, worked part-time jobs with classes. He would go home on weekends. We went to his wedding."

Indeed, Myers, a Marine who had recently received an honorable discharge at the time the allegations broke, came forward to defend Sandusky, telling Sandusky's lawyer and his investigator, Curtis Everhart, what had actually happened. Myers, born on February 28, 1987, had endured his parents' volatile marriage, in which he witnessed his father threatening his mother with a gun. His guidance counselor suggested Myers for the Second Mile program, which he attended as a fourth and fifth grader, getting to know Jerry Sandusky the second year. Myers said that Sandusky was a "father figure" associated with "many positive events" in his life. On "Senior Night" at a West Branch High School football game, Myers asked Sandusky to walk out onto the field with his mother, as the loudspeaker announced, "Father, Jerry Sandusky," along with his mother's name.

About the McQueary shower incident, Myers said, "This particular night is very clear in my mind." In the shower after a workout, he and Sandusky "were slapping towels at each other, trying to sting each other. I would slap the walls and would slide on the shower floor, which I am sure you could have heard from the wooden locker area." Myers said that he recalled hearing a locker slam but he never saw who closed it. Although McQueary would later claim that both Sandusky and Myers saw him, neither of them had any idea he was there that night.

Myers repeatedly and emphatically denied that Jerry Sandusky had ever sexually abused him. "Never, ever, did anything like that occur." Yes, Sandusky had put his hand on his left knee while he was driving, but that didn't bother him. "I often would stay at Jerry's home overnight," he said. "Jerry never violated me while I was at his home or anywhere else. On many occasions there were numerous people at his home. I felt very safe and at ease at his home, whether alone with Jerry or with others present."

The only thing that made Myers feel uncomfortable and violated was his September 2011 interview with Pennsylvania State Police officers. "They would try to put words in my mouth, take my statement out of context. The PSP investigators were clearly angry and upset when I would not say what they wanted to hear. My final words to the PSP were, 'I will never have anything bad to say about Jerry.'"

Allan Myers also wrote a letter to the newspaper and the Pennsylvania attorney general and submitted a sworn statement to both the Pennsylvania State Police and a private investigator to the effect that he was not abused that night or any other time by Jerry Sandusky.

"I am one of those many Second Mile kids who became a part of Jerry's 'family.' He has been a best friend, tutor, workout mentor and more," Myers wrote to the attorney general. "We've worked together, competed together, traveled together and laughed together. I lived with Jerry and Dottie for three months. Jerry's been there for me for 13 years; and stood beside me at my senior parent's football night. I drove twelve hours to attend his mom's funeral. I don't know what I would have done without him."

Myers wrote that letter on May 1, 2011. But like so many Second Milers, Myers subsequently found a lawyer, Andrew Shubin, and joined the throng of those seeking millions of dollars in compensation for alleged abuse. He did not testify at the trial, however. Both prosecution and defense lawyers knew that Allan Myers was the boy in the 2001 McQueary shower incident, but for their own strategic reasons, neither chose to identify him, so that the jury never learned that Myers was in fact the anonymous "Victim Number 2."

The McQueary story of the alleged sodomy-in-the-shower became the linchpin of the entire case against Sandusky, lighting a fire under the investigation and creating a media firestorm, and it is what led to the firing of Penn State University President Graham Spanier and football coach Joe Paterno, as well as subsequent lawsuits against Spanier and former Penn State administrators Gary Schultz and Tim Curley. Ironically, the sodomy charge of "involuntary deviate sexual intercourse" in the McQueary incident was among the few for which the jury found Sandusky not guilty, since the witness did not say that he had literally seen penetration. The jury did find Sandusky guilty of four other McQueary-related charges: "indecent assault, unlawful contact with a minor, corruption of minors and endangering a child's welfare."


The 1998 Shower Incident

One reason that Curley, Schultz, and Spanier decided to tell Jerry Sandusky not to bring kids to the Penn State showers again, after the McQueary incident in 2001, was due to a previous complaint.

In 1998, Debra McCord became alarmed when her son, eleven-year-old Zachary Konstas, returned home after being with Sandusky and mentioned that they had showered together. A single parent, she wanted to make sure her children were okay. Like most of the children whom Sandusky mentored, Konstas was a Second Mile kid, and Sandusky was particularly concerned about him because of the childhood cancer from which Konstas had suffered. Sandusky often expressed compassion for those who were disabled or otherwise challenged in some way.

On this Sunday evening, May 3, 1998, Sandusky had picked Konstas up at his home to go to the Penn State sports facilities. Konstas later recalled that he got to see the players' gear, he was given a pair of socks, they played "Polish soccer" in the hall (a game using a makeshift ball made from a folded towel), and then spent about twenty minutes in the training room learning to use the equipment. Afterwards, Sandusky indicated that a shower was in order. When they were in the shower, they began to roughhouse, and Konstas recalled that Sandusky grabbed him playfully from behind, saying, "I'm going to squeeze your guts out." Sandusky also lifted him up closer to the showerhead to help him get soap out of his hair.

After this outing, Sandusky took Konstas back to his home. On the way to his room Zach Konstas remarked to his mother, "We took a shower, just in case you're wondering why my hair's wet."

Debra McCord became concerned and asked more questions, to which he responded, "I knew you'd make a big deal of it." The following morning McCord called her son's therapist, Alycia Chambers, whom he had been seeing for behavioral issues. Chambers advised her to proceed with her plans to involve the police.

By 11:25 a.m. that Monday of May 4, 1998, the mother and son were speaking to Penn State Police Investigator Ronald Schreffler, whose name had been provided to McCord by the wife of a police officer she knew. Around noon John Miller of Centre County Children and Youth Services had been informed of the incident. At 3:00 in the afternoon Zachary Konstas met with Alycia Chambers at her office, where she asked him about Sunday's events. At 8:10 p.m., Detective Schreffler and John Miller interviewed Brendan Kempton, one of Zach's friends, who had also showered once with Sandusky, and who told the police that nothing sexual had occurred. Finally, at 9:45 p.m., Schreffler and Miller interviewed Zachary Konstas officially, tape-recording the session.

During a therapy session that Monday, Chambers probed Zachary for the details of the outing with Jerry. He told her about the Polish soccer, the work-out, the bear hug, and being lifted up under the shower. He told Chambers that he was concerned about making trouble for Sandusky. Chambers thought that Konstas seemed to be getting irritated, so she directed him to do some "release" work. In her notes, she expressed her satisfaction with the good job he did whacking the chair with a tennis racket. She explained how to make a homemade punching bag so that he could release his anger safely at home. His anger may have been directed at figures of authority such as his mother and the police rather than Sandusky, however. Alycia Chambers later shared details of this session with Detective Schreffler.

Miller and Schreffler questioned Zachary Konstas closely about exactly what had happened in the shower. During this interrogation, which took place only about twenty-four hours after the visit with Sandusky, Konstas described his experience once again. The report describes Konstas as "talkative and laid back." Debra McCord, who was allowed to be present during the interview, is described as "agitated." Protocol for good interviewing technique in suspected sex abuse cases forbids others to be present who might contaminate or influence the interview, so the boy's mother should not have been present.

Portions of this interview were revealed during the trial, with John Miller of Children and Youth Services asking the questions:

Miller. Did he try to shampoo your hair or anything?

Konstas: No. He just gave me the bottle of shampoo and I shampooed my hair and everything.

Miller. Okay. At any time in the shower did Jerry's penis look like it was erect?

Konstas: No, no.


Excerpted from "The Most Hated Man in America"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Mark Pendergrast.
Excerpted by permission of Sunbury Press Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Foreword, by Gary Gray | ix

Introduction: Sandusky, the Monster Story | 1


Chapter 1: What Did Mike McQueary Hear and See? | 11

Chapter 2: The 1998 Shower Incident | 17

Chapter 3: The Repressed Memory Myth | 25

Chapter 4: Aaron Fisher: Victim Number One | 38

Chapter 5: Jonelle Eshbach’s Mounting Frustration | 62

Chapter 6: Four More Alleged Victims | 71

Chapter 7: The Star Victim | 84

Chapter 8: Two New Hotline Victims | 101

Chapter 9: The Phantom Victim: Number 8 | 111

Chapter 10: Matt’s Flip | 119


Chapter 11: A Moral Panic and Its Aftermath | 133

Chapter 12: Media Blitz | 142

Chapter 13: The Accumulating Horror | 189

Chapter 14: Lurching Towards Trial | 173

Chapter 15: The Prosecution Makes Its Case | 185

Chapter 16: The Short Case for the Defense | 203

Chapter 17: Guilty | 221

Chapter 18: Piling on the Vitriol | 236

Chapter 19: John Ziegler’s Lone Crusade | 254

Chapter 20: Legal Grind | 277


Chapter 21: A Big Kid | 304

Chapter 22: Enduring Prison | 319

Chapter 23: What’s the Verdict? | 332

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