The identities of eight alleged victims of child abuse at the hands of former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky will be made public during the trial that begins this month, a judge ruled today.
Five of the alleged victims had petitioned Judge John Cleland to keep their identities anonymous by allowing them to use pseudonyms. All of the victims have been previously been denoted only by number, such as "Victim 1" and "Victim 2," during the investigation and pre-trial hearings.
When the trial begins on June 11, the court will not take any official action to protect their identities as the alleged victims testify against Sandusky, 58, who is charged with 52 counts of child molestation.
"While I will make every effort to be sensitive to the nature of the alleged victims' testimony, once the trial begins the veil must be lifted," Cleland wrote in an order released today.
The victims are expected to testify about the incidents in which Sandusky allegedly molested them, including on Penn State's campus, in the football locker room showers, in the campus hotel Toftrees, in Arizona at the 1998 Outback Bowl Game, and 1999 Alamo Bowl game.
Five of the victims, all of whom are men who are now legal adults, have petitioned for the right to protect their identities due to the nature of the allegations. Sandusky and his attorneys did not object to their request, Cleland wrote, but the judge felt that the alleged victims had a duty to testify publicly.
"As citizens we have certain responsibilities to protect the safety and security of the community as a whole, no matter how personally unpleasant fulfilling that duty may be," the judge wrote.
If the five victims choose not to testify in light of Cleland's ruling, the prosecution will be left with three other victims as well as witnesses to prove the charges of molestation and child rape against Sandusky.
The prosecution's star witness, former Penn State assistant football coach Mike McQueary, is set to testify about a 2001 incident in which McQueary saw Sandusky allegedly raping a young boy in the Penn State football locker room showers.
However, the prosecution originally said that the incident occurred in March 2002, but recently changed the date of the molestation to February 2001. McQueary's original statement to police in 2010 showed that he was not sure which year the incident occurred.
The prosecution has not been able to identify the child who McQueary claims he saw in the shower. Similarly, an alleged incident of molestation that occurred in the football building in 2000 was witnessed by a janitor named James Calhoun who now suffers from dementia and will not be able to testify. That child was also never identified.
The scandal resulted in the dismissal of the university's president as well as its iconic football coach Joe Paterno, who has since died.
If the state's case against Sandusky does not result in conviction, the former defensive coordinator could be prosecuted again in federal court on one of the charges.
According to ABC News affiliate WPVI, Sandusky is the subject of a federal investigation into the account of Victim 4, a now-28 year old who told the investigating grand jury that Sandusky took him to Arizona and Texas for football games and was molested on those trips. Those incidents crossed state lines, making it a federal case.
WPVI confirmed that Sandusky received a federal "target letter," informing him of the investigation.
Victim 4 is expected to testify at the upcoming state trial.
The attorneys for the defense and the prosecution are banned from commenting on the case under a gag order issued by Cleland.