When cameras and questions were pointed directly at key school administrators for the person referred to as “Victim 1,” silence was still the response.
Aaron Fisher, the 18-year-old man whose testimony sparked the initial investigation of Jerry Sandusky, revealed his identity on ABC’s “20/20” Friday night, and in doing so, shed light on the high school administrators he said didn’t do enough.
Fisher recounted the first time he told his high school principal, Karen Probst, that Sandusky was sexually abusing him. Fisher’s mother, Dawn Daniels, was called to the school to aid her then 15-year-old son during his emotional breakdown.
“Aaron was melting down in the office,” Daniels said. “I immediately told them we need to call the police.”
But Probst thought otherwise, advising both Fisher and Daniels to reconsider approaching legal authorities. She reminded them of Sandusky’s prestige in the community and the backlash they could face.
“Everybody knew who he was,” Daniels said in the 20/20 interview. “He’s a great guy. Everybody, even my own father, said he does great things for kids.”
Today, Fisher’s testimony is considered key in Sandusky’s conviction in late June, when the former assistant Penn State football coach was found guilty on 45 counts of sexual abuse. He was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison earlier this month.
When ABC approached the principal for comment on why she didn’t come forward sooner, Probst ran away from the camera crew, seeking shelter within the high school walls. As of the show’s airtime, Probst continued to decline comment.
Psychologist Mike Gillum said he doesn’t understand why no administrators reported Fisher’s initial claims. Gillum, who was one of the first people to interview Fisher about his abuse, said Probst is considered a mandated reporter and is required to report any suspected child maltreatment, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Randy Feathers, the lead investigator in the Sandusky case when Fisher first reported the abuse, said they needed more people to come forward in order to charge Sandusky. Feathers said he “would have put handcuffs on him myself” if they had enough evidence to charge Sandusky the first day.
As for the actions Sandusky may have committed while the investigation continued, Feathers said he can not be sure.
“It’s not a perfect world,” he said. “We did the best we could.”
Today, Fisher said it is still hard for him to deal with the repercussions of coming forward. At times, Fisher said he considered committing suicide and would take his frustrations and anger out through cutting his wrists.
While Sandusky’s sentencing provided closure for some, Fisher said the speech given by the former coach was hard to hear, especially because many of the references made were directed at the young man.
Fisher did not speak at Sandusky’s sentencing.
“I wasn't expecting it,” Fisher said. “I was kind of thinking that he'd get off scot-free with this.”
But for the 18-year-old man, life will continue to move on. Fisher said he hopes to one day attend college and move on with his life. He said he wants to be a state trooper so he can protect people.
“If you are persistent and you continue to fight for what you know is right and what you absolutely think and know is right, then good will prevail and you will get justice out of it,” Fisher said.
Fisher will publish his book “Silent No More: Victim 1's Fight For Justice Against Jerry Sandusky” Oct. 23, detailing Sandusky’s abuse.
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