No one said no to Jerry Sandusky.
That's the underlying message from those closest to the alleged victims in the child-molestation scandal that has engulfed Pennsylvania State University.
After all, Jerry Sandusky, once the heir apparent to legendary football coach Joe Paterno, had been an assistant football coach at Penn State, a longtime community volunteer, and the founder of a well-known charity to help troubled youth.
Last Saturday, after a multiyear grand jury investigation, Sandusky was arrested on charges of sex abuse of eight minors from 1994 to 2009.
His attorney says he is not guilty.
"[My son] is really, really afraid of Jerry," one mother told the Harrisburg Patriot-News. "He told me numerous times when he started backing away from him, you just can't tell him no. I said, Why not?"
Her son told her, "You just don't do that."
Little is known about the alleged victims beyond the graphic details laid out in a grand jury report Nov. 4.
But in interviews, all anonymous, relatives of some of them describe Sandusky as a man who seemed to have carte blanche access to the youths - even pulling them out of high school study halls to meet him.
The mother of a young man known as Victim One said her son began to have troubles in high school.
"I went to the school counselors and . . . basically . . . they said it was a puberty thing," she said in an interview with Good Morning America. On TV, her face was hidden and her voice altered.
The mother said she might have been content to accept that explanation, except her son came home and wanted her help in looking up "sex weirdos" on the Internet.
"He wanted to see if Jerry was on there," she said, adding that her son said, "He's a weirdo." But the son would say no more.
"I called the school and expressed my concern."
She asked guidance counselors to talk to him, and the next thing she knew they called her to come to the school immediately. "At that point I already had suspicions."
The grand jury report lays out a scenario in which Sandusky was able to summon Victim One from class, and no one said no because Sandusky assisted the high school with coaching varsity football and could come and go there as he pleased.
That access didn't change, even when a wrestling coach discovered Sandusky and Victim One lying face to face in an unused part of the high school gym one evening, the report said.
"I didn't even know he was leaving the school with my child," the mother said. "I didn't know he was taking him out of classes. They never told me that."
Victim One's mother told the Patriot-News that officials at Central Mountain High School urged her to think twice about how she wanted to handle the situation, "how that would impact my son," she said.
She didn't think twice - she went immediately to the county's children and youth services agency and reported the situation. By that time, her son had been spending nights and weekends at Sandusky's home for more than a year.
Between January 2008 and July 2009, Sandusky called Victim One 118 times, the report said.
Victim One became the first person to say no to Sandusky. "He's a brave kid," his mother told the Patriot-News. "And his major concern in the whole thing was for anybody else. He said, 'I just don't want this to happen to anybody else.' "
Another mother tried to say no, but it didn't work.
In May 1998, her son, described by the grand jury as Victim Six, came home with wet hair. He had been on a tour of Penn State's locker rooms. As part of the tour, the boy, then 11, and another 11-year-old boy shared a shower with Sandusky, she said.
Her child told her, "If you're wondering why my hair is wet, we took a shower together," and ran into his room, the mother told the Patriot-News.
She immediately called the police.
"Jerry Sandusky admitted to my face, he admitted it," she told the Patriot-News. "He admitted that he lathered up my son, they were naked and he bear-hugged him. If they would have done something about it in 1998 and then again 2002 - there were two chances they dropped the ball."
But police didn't press charges.
The mother said she felt particularly betrayed that assistant Penn State coach Mike McQueary, who was placed on administrative leave Friday, didn't rescue a young boy allegedly being raped in a Penn State locker-room shower in 2002.
"I don't have words to talk about the betrayal I feel," she said in the interview.
Meanwhile, the sister of one of the alleged victims - it's not clear which one - is trying to get through classes as a junior at Penn State's main campus, where students rioted in defense of Paterno.
"I've been going to minimal classes, because every class I go to I get sick to my stomach," the student told the Patriot-News. "People are making jokes about it. I understand they don't know I'm involved and it was my brother, but it's still really hard to swallow that."
Some students joke about being "Sanduskied," but the sister is not laughing.
"I've just been really upset about it because a lot of people aren't focusing on the victims in this," she said. "And instead, they're focusing on other things, like football."
Contact staff writer Jane M.
Von Bergen at 215-854-2769, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @JaneVonBergen on Twitter.