‘Not afraid’: Life after being abused by Jerry Sandusky

Every child fears the monster under the bed, in the closet or in the darkest corner of the room. For many children that monster doesn’t turn into a reality, but for Aaron Fisher and at least nine other boys, it did. 

Fisher first met then-renowned Pennsylvania State University football coach Jerry Sandusky at the Second Mile summer camp on Penn State’s campus. Fisher looked up to Sandusky as a larger-than-life figure, a legend in college football. 

To the boys who attended his camp, he was nice and extremely generous. To young Fisher, he was amazing. 

A steady progression

It wasn’t until Fisher’s second summer at Second Mile camp that he noticed Sandusky taking a special interest in him. Presents, day trips, long car rides, swimming parties and eventually sleepovers at the Sandusky home were a regular occurrence. They are all textbook grooming practices for a child predator, according to psychologist Michael Gillum, with whom Fisher eventually shared his story. 

Looking back now, Fisher admits the signs were clear, but as a young 11-year-old, the funny feelings he got when Sandusky would place his hand on his thigh during a car ride, or inappropriate touches while roughhousing in the pool were nothing he wanted to talk to anyone else about. 

He convinced himself the confusion was just in his head and no one would understand. 

Eventually Fisher would regularly go to Sandusky’s house to play games in his massive basement and spend the night. The abuse became more physical, starting with Sandusky laying in bed with Fisher, often on top of him, and touching and kissing him. 

“It got worse from there,” Fisher said in the book “Silent No More: Victim 1’s Fight for Justice Against Jerry Sandusky,” which Gillum and he wrote in 2012. 

Fisher’s admiration for Sandusky turned to fear. By the time he turned 14, Fisher was ready to talk. 

November marked 10 years since Sandusky’s arrest, but it has been more than 14 years since Fisher first spoke up. 

‘A part taken from me’

Fisher first came forward to his school teachers. 

“They didn’t come right out and say ‘We don’t believe you’, but it was implied,” Fisher told On the PULSE in November. “It didn’t go how we were always taught that it was gonna go… it took a lot longer than I had originally thought it was going to.” 

“Jerry has a heart of gold,” they told him. 

After little success with the school district, Fisher’s mother took him to Gillum, who worked as a psychologist with Children and Youth Services. 

During their first meeting, Gillum said he knew Fisher was telling the truth. He reported it to the police, but even with Gillum’s recommendation, it took four years before charges were filed against Sandusky. 

“Typically young people are not comfortable in these situations, but they are too afraid to object to it,” Gillum told On the PULSE. “First of all, this person is much larger and stronger than they are and, second of all, they realize that a lot of people … would likely not believe them, which is exactly what happened to Aaron Fisher.” 

During the trial, Fisher was referred to as Victim 1 because he was the first to come forward. It was only after he came forward that at least nine other boys reported abuse from Sandusky. 

In June 2012, Sandusky was found guilty of 45 counts of sex crimes.That didn’t mean Fisher’s journey of healing had ended. 

“With everything that he did … it felt like there was a part taken from me that just was not there,” Fisher said. “And I definitely had to battle to get that part of me back… and to be completely honest, I’m not sure that part is fully back yet.” 

“Breathe easier” 

Today he lives in relative isolation, keeping to himself and his hobbies. When he’s not fixing cars at a shop in Williamsport, Fisher loves driving his Jeep on mountain trails around Lock Haven. 

“I’ve noticed that I’ve started breathing easier,” he said. “I can more fully be who I am and who I like to be.” 

Fisher has spent the last 10 years rebuilding his life. He keeps things simple, hanging out with friends, building relationships and talking more openly about what he went through. 

“I do still believe that he’s 100% a monster for what he’s done,” Fisher said. “But I’m not afraid of him anymore.”

Authors

  • Noah launched his own videography company in 2019, and is now teaming up with On the PULSE to ramp up production and content. He is dedicated to engaging the community through his passion for cinema and story-telling.

  • Anne Reiner has been a journalist for over eight years. She lives in Lycoming County and founded On the PULSE to create a new and engaging way to bring local news to the region of Northcentral, Pennsylvania.

Noah Beiter

Noah launched his own videography company in 2019, and is now teaming up with On the PULSE to ramp up production and content. He is dedicated to engaging the community through his passion for cinema and story-telling.

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