Mike McQueary's testimony at a preliminary hearing for three former Penn State officials raises new questions about the university's handling of the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal, legal analysts say.
But they also raise questions about whether McQueary's word would hold up in court.
McQueary, a former assistant coach, testified against former president Graham Spanier, retired vice president Gary Schultz and ex-athletic director Tim Curley on Monday. He said at a hearing Monday that veteran head coach Joe Paterno warned him that he would be scapegoated.
Paterno said the university mishandled the situation, that "Old Main screwed up," McQueary alleged. The witness also said Paterno warned him not to trust the administration or then-counsel Cynthia Baldwin.
Spanier, Schultz and Curley face charges of perjury, obstruction, endangering the welfare of a child and failing to report sexual abuse or conspiracy to police. They say they are innocent.
The judge also heard from campus police chief Tom Harmon and Schultz's assistant, Joan Coble, to determine whether there is enough evidence to take the case against the three former Penn State officials to trial.
McQueary has testified that he saw Sandusky engaged in a sex act with a boy in the locker room shower in 2001. He said he reported it to Paterno, Schultz and Curley days later. Schultz and Curley said that McQueary never said the encounter was sexual in nature, and Spanier said he never heard any reports from the two officials of sexual abuse of a boy.
McQueary's allegations of scapegoating warnings took the spotlight during the first day of the hearing.
"McQueary is really the key to these prosecutions," said Christopher Mallios, a former Philadelphia prosecutor who specialized in abuse cases.
In a preliminary hearing, the prosecution has to introduce enough evidence or witnesses to suggest a crime occurred and that it can be linked to the people charged. Prosecutors often present a fraction of their full case at this stage.
Mallios, who has followed the cases related to the scandal closely, said McQueary's testimony alone provides the burden of proof the prosecution needs to take the case to trial.
"I found McQueary's testimony about Paterno to be a little bit illuminating here, where he doesn't blame Paterno for the cover up but helped him through the whole process," Mallios said. "That was fascinating to me."
Still, McQueary's word may come into question. In the past, he has been criticized for not doing enough to address the sexual abuse, and over time he has changed details of his story about the alleged rape of the boy in the shower.
Wes Oliver, a professor at Duquesne University School of Law who has followed the Sandusky case, said McQueary's testimony puts an interesting spin on the case involving former officials, but his story has changed over time.
"He has never uttered those words before," Oliver said. "Now the question is, if that's true, why is he saying that now for the first time?"
What's interesting is that the jury transcripts from the grand jury aren't available so it is hard to tell how truthful McQueary is, Oliver added.
McQueary's credibility has come into question before. Footage from a documentary defending Paterno shows Sandusky also questioning McQueary's accounts.
"His story changed a lot," Sandusky said. "I think he said something and then it escalated on him even. There's a lot of suggestive questioning."
The defense will likely question the new developments in McQueary's story, along with the defamation and whistleblower lawsuit he filed against the university. In the lawsuit, McQueary alleges the university didn't renew his contract in June 2012 because of his testimony against officials.
"I think we can expect to see if this case moves forward, and it will, attacks on McQueary's credibility, attacks in the courtroom and perhaps attacks even in the public arena," Mallios said.
But, he added, as long as McQueary's basic facts match what he told the grand jury, McQueary should be able to prove that his story adds up.
"If he has been consistent in his material facts, it's going to be difficult for the defense to use inconsistencies to attack his credibility."
Contributing: The Associated Press