Matt Sandusky is known for two things. First and foremost, he is the son of Jerry Sandusky -- more specifically, he is the adopted son of Jerry Sandusky and one of the former football coach's dozens of sexual abuse victims.
Matt is also an enduring reminder of the scandal that rocked Happy Valley, Pennsylvania. His voice has been prominent in the public as well, which was eager to pass its own judgments on Jerry Sandusky, former Penn State coach Joe Paterno, and the university as an institution.
For that, Matt Sandusky has suffered. As he explains to Jeff Pearlman in a feature published by Bleacher Report, Matt Sandusky changed his last name several years ago -- and not just to disassociate himself with Jerry Sandusky, whom he now refers to only as "my perpetrator." Matt explains that his kids were being ridiculed by classmates over their connection to the scandal.
"The bullying was very bad," Matt's wife, Kim, tells Pearlman. "So as a family we decided to start new and let the kids avoid being stigmatized."
The fallout is still fresh for Matt after years of keeping his abuse quiet. He first met Jerry Sandusky as a troubled young boy through The Second Mile Foundation, the nonprofit through which Sandusky met -- and violated -- many other victims.
Matt continued to get into trouble with the police. One day, he faced an ultimatum: Either he'd be stuck in the system, or he would have to go live with his perpetrator, who had offered to take him under his wing.
He chose the latter option, and became a part of the family, even though the abuse continued. His loyalty was strong through thick and thin, even when the accusations against Sandusky started to crop up.
"They were my family," Matt says now. "I understand how that looks to people, but this stuff isn't simple."
Initially, Matt was receptive to the coaching from Sandusky's legal team in preparation to be used as a character witness. During that process, he broke down. He told Jerry Sandusky that he remembered being abused. Then he told his wife, who had already suspected that her father-in-law was guilty of abusing the other victims who had come forward.
Matt ultimately went and spoke to police, giving his account of his abuse, and released a statement during the trial coming out to the public and explaining his actions.
According to Bleacher Report, detectives asked Matt why he chose that particular moment.
"I mean, for my family, so that they can really have closure and see what the truth actually is," he said. "And just to right the wrong, honestly, of going to the grand jury and lying."
Not everyone believes him, though. Within the Penn State community, there are outspoken critics of Matt who refuse to believe his account of abuse. They suspect alterior motives -- he was one of the victims to receive a payout settlement from Penn State -- and believe he contributed to a media frenzy that perpetuated false narratives about certain aspects of the case, particularly as they related to Joe Paterno.
Even Matt's adopted mother and his adopted brother -- who continues to be supportive and loving toward his Matt -- have discredited him in television interviews.
Matt admits to some frustration and anger with those who don't believe him, but he also operates with the understanding that those attitudes are out of his control. He continues to focus on things he has power over, which include his non-profit work.
When he's at his non-profit, by the way, he goes by Matt Sandusky. He may have changed his name, but that identity has stuck with him. Fortunately, he's found a way to use it for good.
"Like it or not, people identify the name with everything that happened," he says. "And that's important to the cause."
Read the full story at Bleacher Report.