Dec. 11, 2011 -- The details of what Mike McQueary, then a graduate assistant for Penn State's powerhouse football team, did or didn't witness in a shower where former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky allegedly was sexually assaulting a 10-year-old will be parsed Tueday during a scheduled preliminary hearing on the merits of the evidence in the case.
An article in today's Patriot-News of Harrisburg, Pa., said a source knowledgeable of grand jury testimony in the case, questions whether McQueary just heard what sounded like sexual activity or, as he has said repeatedly, actually saw a child being sodomized.
The 52 counts of sex crimes against boys with which Sandusky has been charged, have hinged partly on that latter, stated recollection from McQueary.
McQueary has said he saw Sandusky sodomizing a boy who was standing with his hands against a shower wall in 2002, and that the pair turned and looked at him before he left the building.
But Dr. Jonathan Dranov, a State College, Pa., a friend and physician colleague of McQueary's father, Dr. John McQueary remembers it differently. Dranov told the grand jury that he also sat and listened as Mike McQueary gave his father that day-after eyewitness account.
According to the Patriot-News source in question, Dranov testified that McQueary said he heard "sex sounds" and the shower running, and a young boy stuck his head around the corner of the shower stall, peering at him as an adult arm reached around his waist and pulled him back out of view.
Seconds later, McQueary said, Sandusky left the shower in a towel, Dranov testified, according to the newspaper's source.
Dranov said he asked McQueary three times whether he saw anything sexual, and each time McQueary said no, according to the knowledgeable source.
Given that response, Dranov advised McQueary to inform head football coach Joe Paterno, rather than police, about what he witnessed.
Paterno, who was fired for not taking sufficiently decisive action about an alleged sodomy, has said the alleged assault was not graphically conveyed to him as a rape. Moreover, the Patriot-News wrote, McQueary's story has been a key element to all the criminal cases, and the only evidence of an assault in 2002 that grand jurors heard.
Sandusky's attorneys likely will seize on that inconsistency to defend their client Tuesday when the hearing starts.
The hearing will serve as a kind of mini-trial, replete with prosecutorial witnesses who likely will be cross-examined by attorneys defending Sandusky against 52 counts of sex crimes against 10 alleged victims. Eight of them are expected to testify before Magisterial Judge Robert E. Scott, who will solely decide if there's probable cause for the case to proceed to trial in a county court.
Unlike many states, Pennsylvania law empowers grand juries to fact-find and hear testimony given under sworn oath but restricts them from indicting alleged criminals.
After the hearing ends, Judge Scott must relatively immediately decide if the case will be tried—there seems little likelihood that it won't—and a trial date probably will be set within a couple months.
Prosecutors on Friday told ABC News that Sandusky's case remains open, allowing the grand jury, if it sees fit, to charge defendants in addition to Sandusky and others from Penn State, and to include more alleged victims in the lawsuit.
McQueary's account from 2002 had also led to perjury charges against ousted Athletic Director Tim Curley and Vice President Gary Schultz, who are set for a preliminary hearing Friday on charges of perjury and failure to report a crime.
Both have said they were told only about horseplay that made McQueary uncomfortable, while McQueary testified he explicitly detailed about a rape.
There's been no response, the Patriot-News wrote, to more than a month's worth of what the newspaper said were its repeated attempts to reach McQueary. He was placed on leave after those who believe he didn't do enough to stop the alleged 2002 assault threatened to kill him.
ABC News Law & Justice Unit producer Lauren Pearle contributed to this report.