The Clinton County teenager whose report of abuse triggered an investigation into Jerry Sandusky wasn’t in the courtroom the night in June when a jury returned 45 guilty verdicts against the former Penn State assistant coach.
Instead, 18-year-old Aaron Fisher was driving to work as a late-shift security guard when he got a call from his mom with the good news. He pulled over, the tears blurring his vision.
“I just put my head down on the steering wheel and cried,” wrote Fisher, who was known as Victim 1 in the grand jury presentment. “Happy tears, but I was crying.”
That anecdote was among the recollections and personal experiences Fisher recounted in his book “Silent No More: Victim 1’s Fight for Justice Against Jerry Sandusky,” which was released Tuesday. Fisher is a co-author with his mother, Dawn Daniels, and psychologist Mike Gillum.
In the 221-page book, Fisher explains his personal struggles as the investigation inched along and the torment he went through, including having to testify to a grand jury multiple times and feeling as though school officials at Central Mountain High School didn’t believe him.
He called Sandusky a “monster,” describing how Sandusky groomed him and how school officials tried to talk him out of reporting Sandusky. He said he thinks Sandusky’s family had to have known what was going on.
Gillum, who counseled Fisher immediately after he and his mother walked in the door of Clinton County’s Children and Youth Services office in November 2009, gives a detailed chronology of what went on behind the scenes. Gillum became frustrated as the investigation slowed and prosecutors told him many times that an arrest was imminent. He also blamed Gov. Tom Corbett for delaying the investigation when he was the attorney general at the same time running for governor.
The book follows Fisher’s and Daniel’s interview last week with ABC during which they revealed their identities.
In response, people in Lock Haven are planning a rally against Keystone Central School District and a vigil in support of Fisher for Saturday. The rally is at Central Mountain High School at 11 a.m. and the vigil is at 7 p.m. in front of the levee on East Water Street in Lock Haven.
In the book, Fisher said he came to know Sandusky through a camp at Sandusky’s Second Mile charity. The next year, Sandusky befriended him. Fisher’s first “funny feeling” about Sandusky was at a pool.
“Jerry was roughhousing with all of us in the water, but when he picked me up — you know, to toss me in the air and then I’d come down with a splash — I felt like he was holding on to my crotch just a little too long,” he wrote.
He also said he questioned why Sandusky’s wife, Dottie, didn’t go to the basement in their house, which is where Fisher said Sandusky abused him. He thought there was a conspiracy among the Sandusky family.
“Somewhere deep inside me, I thought she had to know,” he said.
When Fisher was almost 15, he tried to break away from Sandusky. The two were in Sandusky’s basement, and Sandusky got rough with him.
“He got in my face and started screaming at me and grabbed my arms so hard that he left bruises on me,” he wrote.
Fisher said he went as far as signing up for Big Brothers/Big Sisters to get away from Sandusky and had his mom, Dawn Daniels, tell Sandusky he was out with his friends if the former coach called. That’s when Sandusky “went crazy,” he wrote.
Sandusky started going to Fisher’s school, Central Mountain High School, and tried to get the boy out of class. School officials bent the rules for Sandusky, allowing him to get Fisher, the book said.
Fisher tried to avoid Sandusky, and he detailed an encounter one day he said he was being stalked by Sandusky.
Sandusky, in his car, had followed the boy’s bus and confronted Fisher when he got out. Fisher ran home, and Sandusky followed, eventually getting into a heated conversation with the boy’s mother, who later called her father.
Fisher eventually asked his mom how to find people registered as “sex weirdos” online.
The next day, the boy’s mother called the school and told the guidance counselor and principal about the exchange she had with her son. She said she had a bad feeling about how her son was acting out and that she didn’t want Sandusky to be allowed to take her son out of class anymore.
“I felt like I was getting resistance from both Karen (Probst, the principal),” Daniels wrote.
But Probst called her back a few hours later, and Daniels said the principal sounded as if she were in tears.
Daniels went to the school, where she found her son in tears. She asked him if Sandusky sexually assaulted him, and he replied yes.
Probst recommended they go home and think over what they said, but Daniels said she wanted to call the police, even swearing at Probst.
After that, Daniels drove with Fisher to the Clinton County CYS in Lock Haven, where Fisher was interviewed by psychologist Mike Gillum.
“When Mike and Aaron came out of the office a few hours later, I could tell by the look on Mike’s face that Aaron had told him something awful,” the mother wrote.
Fisher said he opened up to Gillum over time, and the abuse finally sunk in.
Gillum wrote in the book that the school had a “deplorable response” to Fisher’s complaint and that it was “rife with favoritism when it came to Sandusky,” who had been a volunteer coach for the school’s football team and was allowed by Assistant Principal Steve Turchetta to take Fisher out of class.
Gillum said the school officials didn’t call CYS until after Daniels said that’s where she was headed.
“I knew now that the only reason they called was that Aaron had made a report to them of alleged abuse and the omission of a phone call to us would have looked really bad for them after the fact,” Gillum wrote. “They were covering their collective ass.”
Gillum wrote he became frustrated with as the investigation dragged on and new lead investigators from the state police were brought in one after another. He said Fisher had difficulties in front of the grand jury and had to testify again after the grand jury wanted more details than he provided on his first visit.
Gillum praised lead prosecutor Joseph E. McGettigan III, who took over for Jonelle Eshbach after the indictment in November.
As for Fisher, he said he won’t let what happened to him hold him back in life. He wants to go to college and possibly become a state trooper or major in history.
“I have a lot of plans, backup plans, and dreams,” he wrote. “And I’m going to chase my dreams, and all the nightmares be damned.”
Mike Dawson can be reached at 231-4616. Follow him on Twitter @MikeDawsonCDT