Jerry Sandusky Sentenced to 30-60 Years In Prison
Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, whose sexual abuse of children triggered a cascading crisis that still shadows the state’s largest university, was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison Tuesday
The sentence issued by Judge John Cleland means that the 68-year-old former coach, convicted of abusing 10 children over 15 years, will spend the rest of his life in prison barring a successful appeal.
On the eve of his sentencing, Sandusky issued a statement to the Penn State student-run radio station, ComRadio, in which he maintained his innocence.
“In my heart, I know I did not do these alleged, disgusting acts,” he said.
The former coach blamed his legal troubles on a young man designated by the state grand jury as “Victim 1,” a former participant in Sandusky’s charity for troubled youth, The Second Mile.
Slade McLaughlin, the attorney representing the victim, said Sandusky’s opportunity to speak came and went at his trial.
“He now has the audacity to take pot shots at his victims, who did have the courage to come forth to speak the truth,” he said.
Sandusky’s sentence comes just more than three months after a jury rendered its guilty verdicts and nearly a year after a Pennsylvania grand jury first published a gruesome catalog of crimes directly implicating the once-revered former coach.
Within days, the fast-moving scandal prompted the ouster of longtime
university President Graham Spanier and Joe Paterno, the iconic head football
coach who had become university’s public face.
Two other university officials, Athletic Director Tim Curley
and retired Vice President Gary Schultz, also have been charged with failing to
report Sandusky’s abuse to police and lying to the grand jury about what they
were told about the coach’s activities involving a 2001 assault of a young boy
in a locker-room shower.
Both men have denied any wrongdoing and are awaiting trial in January.
Sandusky’s court appearance marks his first trip outside protective custody at
the nearby Centre County Correctional Facility where he has been held since shortly after the jury delivered its verdict June 22.
He is expected to be transferred to the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections admissions center near Harrisburg where he is slated
to undergo psychological and physical evaluation before a more permanent
assignment within a state system that holds 51,638 inmates, including 6,777 prisoners classified as sex offenders.
Joe Amendola, Sandusky’s lead defense lawyer, said his client still maintains his innocence and will launch an appeal. But the attorney suggested that the effort will be difficult.
“The only way (Sandusky) walks out of jail is if he gets a new trial,” the attorney said.
Among the issues Amendola said he will press is a claim that Cleland pushed the case to trial too quickly by declining repeated defense requests for delays, leaving little time to review the mass of evidence assembled against his client.
“With the number of victims in this case, we had the equivalent of 10 separate cases to prepare for all rolled into the same trial,” Amendola said. “We had virtually no time to prepare a case. We were forced to piece together a defense by the seat of our pants. That’s going to be the issue.”
Sandusky’s appeal, the pending criminal cases against Curley and Schultz and victims’ civil lawsuits lodged against the university ensure that the coach’s crimes will continue to shadow the university for months, and perhaps, years to come.
In July, a blistering internal review of the university’s initial response to the first allegations of abuse involving Sandusky triggered NCAA sanctions resulting in $60 million in penalties, scholarship losses and a four-year bowl ban for the school’s beloved football program.
Last week, former Penn State assistant football coach Michael McQueary filed a lawsuit against the university seeking $4 million in lost future wages when his employment was terminated this summer.
The former coach alleges that the university defamed him and fired him because of his cooperation with law enforcement officials in the Sandusky investigation.
McQueary, a key witness in the prosecution of Sandusky, testified at trial that he told Paterno, Curley and Schultz about the 2001 shower incident involving Sandusky and a young boy. Paterno, who died in January, was not charged because he reported McQueary’s concerns to Curley and Schultz.
The 2001 incident was never reported to police, resulting only in the admonishment of Sandusky who was directed not to bring children on campus in the future.