Lee Boyd Malvo, the D.C. sniper sidekick who helped kill 10 people in a bloodthirsty rampage around the nation’s capital in 2002, says he was sexually abused by shooting mastermind John Allen Muhammad.
In an interview that aired Thursday on NBC’s “Today” show, Malvo alleged publicly for the first time that he was molested.
“For the entire period when I was almost 15 until I got arrested, I was sexually abused by John Muhammad,” Malvo, who was 17 at the time of the shootings, confessed to “Today” show host Matt Lauer.
Malvo, now 27, is serving a life sentence in a Virginia prison without the possibility of parole.
“You have denied this in the past, that there was a sexual relationship between the two of you,” Lauer said to Malvo. “Why did you deny it up until now, and why are you divulging it now?”
“I felt a sense of shame, and I just said, ‘That’s just something that I’d never tell anyone,’” Malvo responded. “And to a certain extent, up until that point, I really couldn’t handle it. The main reason I’m coming forward now is because I am more mature.”
He added that he was forced to face his demons while locked up in solitary confinement.
Malvo, who was born in Jamaica, first met Muhammad around 1999 in Antigua, where the teen’s mother had moved the family.
Malvo told Lauer he had been sexually abused before then, first by a baby sitter when he was around 5 and then by some relatives when he was 8 or 9.
Muhammad took Malvo under his wing, and the pair began a life of crime in the United States.
The duo began the deadly spree in the Washington area on Oct. 2, 2002, randomly gunning down their victims for about three weeks before police finally nabbed them. They murdered 10 and wounded at least six others.
While Malvo was spared the death sentence in December 2003, Muhammad was executed by lethal injection in November 2009 at age 48.
In an interview last month with The Washington Post, Malvo called himself a “monster” and said Muhammad “brainwashed” him.
Lauer asked Malvo whether there are other victims who were never identified. The convicted sniper admitted there are and that he previously told authorities about those cases.
When asked what he might have to say to the victims’ families, he offered advice that he’s given to himself.
“Please do not allow my actions and the actions of Muhammad to hold you hostage and continue to victimize you for the rest of your life,” he said, adding, “Do not give me or him that much power.”
The family of one victim said they have come to understand that Malvo was under Muhammad's control, though coming to grips with it didn't erase their grief.
"We recognize that he was tremendously under the control of John Muhammad and he was, probably a good word would be brainwashed," Bob Meyers, whose brother, Dean, was gunned down at a gas station in Virginia, told NBC News. "And since that time he’s gotten some mentoring and some help and has had some years to recognize what he did."
"Our understating is that, he, given the chance, he would not have chosen to take the same course again," Meyers said. "But he can’t alter that."