BELLEFONTE, Pa. - A Clinton County man who says he was at the center of the defining episode of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal took the witness stand Friday but was never directly asked the one question that a full courtroom had waited five years to hear him answer:
Was he Victim 2, the boy graduate assistant Mike McQueary said he saw Sandusky sexually assaulting in a locker room shower 15 years ago?
Instead, in a half-hour of testimony that left even the judge confused, the 29-year-old former Marine seethed at Sandusky's lawyer, acknowledged he had given conflicting answers to the question in the past, and said he had ultimately collected a financial settlement from Pennsylvania State University based on the allegation.
In the end, the man testified, he had been sexually assaulted by the former football coach and was lying when he told investigators for the Attorney General's Office and Sandusky's defense in 2011 that he hadn't.
"That would reflect what I said then. Not what I would say now," he said. "I can't sit here and say I recall verbatim what I said in every one of these interviews and how things have changed."
The man - whose name is being withheld by the Inquirer due to his allegations - testified under a subpoena from Sandusky's lawyers as part of the former coach's latest efforts to overturn his conviction on charges that he abused 10 boys.
Whether he was one of them remains an open question. Trial prosecutors and Sandusky's lawyers have both called his account into doubt.
Senior Judge John M. Cleland opened the hearing by establishing that he had little interest in getting to the bottom of the mystery.
Instead, the judge limited the focus to what prosecutors believed at the time of Sandusky's trial and whether lead prosecutor Joseph McGettigan hid the truth from jurors when he told them that the identity of Victim 2 was "known only to God."
Cleland warned Sandusky, who sat at the defense table in an orange jumpsuit, that his lawyers couldn't even be sure what the accuser might say when he took the stand.
As it turned out, it wasn't much.
Dressed in a dark suit and pink tie, the man never once looked directly at Sandusky and never said his name, referring to the coach only under questioning by lawyer Al Lindsay as "your client."
Lindsay had hoped to establish that the man was the boy McQueary saw in the campus shower in 2001 but that his original statement to Sandusky's trial lawyer - that he hadn't been abused that night - was the truth.
After Sandusky's case became a national story, the accuser changed his account and hired a civil attorney to press a claim against Penn State.
He made several conflicting abuse allegations to state investigators - part of the reason McGettigan, the prosecutor, told the court this summer that he ultimately concluded the man, while perhaps a Sandusky victim, was not Victim 2 or a credible witness.
In court filings, Lindsay had said that the man had recently changed his story yet again, recanting his abuse allegations in an interview with a Sandusky supporter.
Asked about that assertion in court Friday, the man grew visibly angry.
"I had just brought my firstborn child home . . . and [this supporter] was blathering stuff at me," he said. "I told him to get the f- off my property."
Throughout, Cleland appeared baffled by the questioning and what it was meant to accomplish. He did not issue a ruling on Sandusky's contentions regarding Victim 2 or any of the appeal grounds the former coach has raised.
"Somehow I'm missing a connection that you're trying to make," he told Lindsay at one point. "Why is any of this relevant to the issues that bring us here this afternoon?"
But the appellate lawyer remained unfazed. After the hearing, he said he thought it had gone well.
His client, however, appeared less composed. Called briefly to testify at the conclusion of the hearing Friday, Sandusky was asked only one question: Had he ever abused the man who had just testified?
Through labored, heavy breathing, he shouted: "Absolutely not."