In August 2011, tucked into a secret office in downtown Harrisburg, Aaron Fisher threatened to walk away from the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse investigation.
Seated alongside his mother, Dawn Daniels, his psychologist, Mike Gillum and prosecutor Frank Fina, as well as others in the investigative team, Fisher pushed back his chair and uttered two words.
Detailed in his book, “Silent No More: Victim 1’s Fight for Justice Against Jerry Sandusky,” which was released Tuesday, Fisher describes his frustrations with the investigation that took more than three years to yield an arrest.
After months of promises and guarantees of an impending arrest of Sandusky, Fisher finally had enough. The now 18-year-old man went before two grand juries, recounted his abuse to more than three state police officers and struggled to explain the years of his life Fisher wrote he lost.
Gillum described the scene as a turning point, a moment that in the end pushed Fina and the investigative team to move forward, because without Fisher, it’s unknown whether the case would have even been heard.
To this day it remains unclear whether the conviction of Sandusky –– on 45 counts of sex abuse and ultimately, a life sentence of 30 to 60 years in prison –– would have happened had the track star from Clinton County not come forward.
“In that moment, Aaron went from a frightened little boy to a young man with incredible courage,” Gillum wrote.
It was that day in August that Fina promised Sandusky would be arrested within the month.
Fisher’s book, co-written with Daniels and Gillum, takes readers from the very start of Fisher’s life with his single mother, switching between the three perspectives to give a more complete picture of the years of abuse Fisher experienced.
In the opening pages, readers are transported to the night of Sandusky’s conviction, in which Fisher was driving to work, not expecting any news of the verdict to break late Friday night.
A phone call from his mother would change the drive. Fisher wrote that he pulled over to the side of the road because he couldn’t see clearly through his tears.
“I didn’t pump my fist in the air or let out a cheer,” he wrote. “I just put my head down on the steering wheel and cried.”
While the book recounts a story that many are all too familiar with after the duration of the past year, Fisher’s first-hand accounts of the obstacles he and his family faced during the investigation provide visuals to a story told through newsprint and recounting.
Fisher never details the graphic accounts of the abuse he experienced from Sandusky. Much like his mother, whom to this day Fisher wrote he has still not told directly, readers aren’t provided with a first-hand account.
But from Gillum’s and Daniels’ perspectives, the details of Fisher’s life remain very clear.
From the start, Gillum wrote that Fisher’s case was one of the worst he’s ever experienced. To this day, Gillum wrote that he still suffers from insomnia, perplexed by the inability to stop the crime of pedophilia.
His own life has been changed by the three-year investigation, in which Gillum received death threats and an “ominous silence” from colleagues and former friends.
“I’m not sure if I’ll ever stop thinking about Aaron’s case,” he wrote.
Slipped among the pages are talks of Gov. Tom Corbett’s reluctance to press the investigation forward, as well as former Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar’s dismissal of the 1998 investigation. Fisher’s family, as well as Gillum, still wait for answers with regard to the millions of questions they acknowledge they will most likely never receive.
Fisher, however, is moving forward, attempting to rebuild a childhood and innocence he wrote Sandusky took from him too many years ago.
The last words of his story read with a passion for the future and hope that one day, he will be able to provide safety to kids just like himself in the role of a state police officer.
“I have a lot of plans, backup plans, and dreams,” Fisher wrote. “And I’m going to chase my dreams, and all the nightmares be damned. I am not a victim. Not anymore.”