(Note: explicit sexual content)
BELLEFONTE, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - The final prosecution witness in the child abuse trial against former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky testified on Monday that her son, who has told jurors he was anally raped, was often missing his underwear when he returned from visits with Sandusky.
The lawyers for the former assistant to legendary football coach Joe Paterno then kicked off their defense, having previously told jurors it could be a daunting task since the case had undergone a "tidal wave" of negative publicity. Sandusky has pleaded not guilty and his lawyer said he will testify.
After 3-1/2 days of testimony last week from eight alleged victims, the prosecution ended its case with the often emotional testimony of the mother of one of the accusers who said Sandusky would often give the boy gifts such as sneakers and athletic former clothing.
"I wish he would have just given him some underwear to replace the underwear I could never find in his laundry," she said.
Sandusky, 68, the former defensive coordinator for Pennsylvania State University's successful football program, faces 52 counts of abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period. Two of the alleged victims have never been identified.
If convicted on all counts, Sandusky faces a sentence of more than 500 years in prison.
Prosecutors have sought to show that Sandusky is a serial sexual predator who targeted boys through the Second Mile charity he founded in 1977 for underprivileged children.
The accounts from the witnesses, now aged 18 to 28, of being victimized as young boys by a much older man, including oral sex and shared showers, at times brought both them and the jurors to tears.
The case prompted the firing last year of the university's president, Graham Spanier, and head football coach Joe Paterno, record-holder for most wins by a major U.S. college football coach. Paterno died of lung cancer in January at age 85.
The allegations against Sandusky have also focused U.S. national attention on the issue of child sexual abuse.
JUDGE DECLINES TO DROP CHARGES
In her testimony on Monday, the accuser's mother said she never asked what happened to her son, now age 18 and known as Victim 9 in court papers, and still does not know because she knew it would be tough for him to tell her.
She said her son would stay over at Sandusky's house two or three weekends a month for the majority of the year and Sandusky would directly ask her son if he wanted to come over, not speaking with his mother first.
When she noticed her son would be missing underwear when he returned from the trips, the boy would tell her he had an accident and threw them out.
Her son told jurors in testimony last week that Sandusky had anally raped him and forced him to perform oral sex.
Sandusky's defense had hoped to have a number of the charges against their client thrown out before they began calling their witnesses.
Among other arguments, the defense said charges relating to two alleged victims, identified in court papers as Victims 2 and 8, should be dismissed because no evidence has been entered that would prove their ages when they would have been molested.
The judge, however, rejected the motions.
The defense has previously said it could call dozens of witnesses, including Sandusky's wife Dottie and other family members, as well as Paterno's widow Sue and son Jay.
A spokesman for Sue and Jay Paterno has said they were not aware they were potential witnesses until defense attorney Joe Amendola released the list during selection of the jury of seven women and five women.
Amendola has argued that the accusers are out for money and in cross examination last week asked them whether they had hired attorneys to pursue civil action against his client. Amendola has said that Sandusky might have acted inappropriately but is not a molester. He has also said Sandusky will testify.
The defense scored a victory on Friday when the judge overseeing the case ruled that it could enter expert testimony that Sandusky suffered from histrionic personality disorder.
People with the disorder are highly emotional attention-seekers who show inappropriate sexually seductive behavior. (Editing by Paul Thomasch and Jackie Frank)