PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Without the victims coming forward and agreeing to testify, the fate of Jerry Sandusky may have been much different.

So, what happens now for the young men who shared their stories during the trial?

Local experts say it’s a painful task for any child to take the stand. But it can be even more daunting when the whole nation is watching.

“It takes courage to believe those children, but it takes more courage for those children to get up there and tell their story,” said Joan Mills, the manager of A Child’s Place at Mercy.

Mills says what happened late Friday night could be a game changer for victims of sexual abuse.

“If people in Bellefonte, in Happy Valley could believe a Penn State football coach could do this, then I hope up the street on Grant Street, our jurors and other jurors in Butler, in Beaver, in Westmoreland and Fayette can believe their child victims who take the stand next week and the week after,” said Mills.

Mills says since the Sandusky case first came to light, she’s seen her office’s caseload double.

It’s something she says stems from abused children feeling more comfortable telling their story so that something can be done.

As hundreds gathered outside the Centre County Courthouse Friday night, there were cheers as Sandusky’s fate was learned. But that exuberance for a guilty verdict likely doesn’t feel that way for those whom Sandusky was convicted of abusing.

“I don’t think we ever feel joy if we get a conviction; relief is the best thing I can say, relief that at least this one person is off the streets,” said Mills. “But I don’t think you can ever describe it as joyous because the deeds have already happened. The damage is already done.”

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