LOCK HAVEN — To Carolyn Toner, the Clinton County boy whose mother reported to authorities in 2009 that her son was molested by Jerry Sandusky shouldn’t be called “Victim One.”
Instead, to her, the boy is “Hero One.”
She’d crossed off the word “victim” and replaced it with “hero” on a poster on display Saturday night during a candlelight walk through Lock Haven as a show of support for the boy, who’s had to deal with the effects of the charges against Sandusky in the public eye as it’s been reported he withdrew from high school amid bullying by his peers.
“It’s sad that any child would have to endure that so publicly,” said Michelle Wachter, of Beech Creek, who participated in the candlelight walk. “It’d be nice for the victims’ families to know there are people supporting them.”
Toner, who grew up in Lock Haven and now lives in Shamokin Dam, Snyder County, organized the walk through a Facebook posting on Wednesday and a blurb in Saturday’s edition of The (Lock Haven) Express.
She said she hoped the walk would keep momentum for the alleged victims’ support going, open a dialogue about what went wrong, and let the boy know he has local support.
The walk, which started at 7 p.m. and lasted about 15 minutes, drew more than 50 supporters — young and old — and got a few honks of support from people driving by.
People had candles in glasses or fixed onto paper plates, and a girl held up a battery-operated Christmas candle.
Saturday’s walk followed a student-led candlelight vigil on Penn State’s campus that drew thousands two weeks ago in support of the victims.
The Clinton County boy’s mother’s report in 2009 was what led to a two-year investigation by the Attorney General’s Office and 40 counts of child sexual abuse against Sandusky, who’s maintained his innocence since the investigation began. Investigators found seven other alleged victims, two whose identities aren’t known by the state.
According to the grand jury’s report, the boy met Sandusky through The Second Mile in 2005 or 2006. Sandusky started spending more time with the boy in 2007, which included taking the boy to his home for overnight stays as well as to Philadelphia Eagles games or Penn State preseason football practices.
The boy testified to the grand jury that Sandusky performed oral sex on him more than 20 times through 2007 and early 2008. He cut off contact with Sandusky in the spring of 2008.
At the walk Saturday night, Elizabeth Gray and her sister-in-law were among the 50 supporters.
“I want him to know people support him,” said Gray, of Lock Haven, about the boy.
Her sister-in-law, Samantha Gray, also of Lock Haven, said she’s concerned that Keystone Central School District administrators didn’t do enough to help the boy before he withdrew. She said she thinks students need to be educated about the abuse so they don’t bully or tease, she said. Abuse prevention and awareness initiatives would be appropriate, too, she said.
Keystone Central administrators haven’t commented publicly on the allegations. People at the candlelight walk urged the supporters to write to Keystone Central school board directors, whose next meeting is Dec. 8.
Mike Dawson can be reached at 231-4616.