Jerry Sandusky, a former assistant at Penn State under legendary coach Joe Paterno and once-respected man of his community, was found guilty on 45 of 48 charges in a child sex abuse trial that captivated the nation for the magnitude of criminal activity and the graphic testimony of the victims.
The verdicts, announced around 10:15 p.m. Friday night in Bellefonte, Pa., end an eight-day trial that was gripping and shocking as details of the mayhem Sandusky reigned over a 15-year period on youths he targeted from his local charity, the Second Mile.
The jury of his neighbors in Centre County, Pa. – seven women and five men — deliberated for about 20 hours before coming back with a message that, in essence, indicate the prosecution convicted a monster.
In 90 days or so, Sandusky, 68, will be sentenced to up to 442 years – or the rest of his life. Judge John Cleland revoked Sandusky’s bail and he was immediately placed into custody. When he walked into the courtroom to receive the verdict was his last second of freedom.
“The Sandusky family is very disappointed by the verdict,” his lawyer, Joe Amendola said on the courtroom steps moments after the verdict. “ But we respect their verdict. . . We had a tidal wave of public opinion against Jerry Sandusky. . . We always felt that Jerry’s fair shake would come from a Centre County jury. . . It was the expected outcome because of the overwhelming evidence against Jerry Sandusky. . . We have some appeal issues we will pursue. We have some decent issues.”
Here is a breakdown of the charges and verdicts (17 felonies):
- Involuntary deviate sexual intercourse – guilty on eight of nine counts.
- Indecent assault – guilty on seven of nine counts.
- Criminal intent to comment indecent assault – guilty on one of one counts.
- Unlawful contact with minors: guilty on nine of nine counts.
- Corruption of minors – guilty on 10 of 10 counts.
- Endangering welfare of children – guilty on 10 of 10 counts.
Linda Kelly, the Pennsylvania attorney general said, “We believe justice has been served. To bring theses charges to light. . . . see this day — a serial child predator who committed horrific acts upon his victims, causing life-long and life-changing consequences for all of them. . . has been held accountable for his crimes.”
Penn State issued a statement that, in part, read: “We have tremendous respect for the men who came forward to tell their stories publicly. No verdict can undo the pain and suffering caused by Mr. Sundusky. But we do hope this judgment helps the victims and their families along their path to healing.”
Evidence came out that Sandusky could have been stopped long before now. In 1998 there was an investigation, but the local district attorney determined there was not enough evidence to pursue a case. In 2001, there were warnings that he fit the profile of a sexual predator. Nothing happened – until assistant coach Mike McCreary came forward with information that he witnessed Sandusky having sex with a minor in a shower on the Penn State campus.
He was arrest November 5, 2011, starting a case that will have reverberations for the school and community for some time to come.
It was a diabolical scheme Sandusky implemented. He befriended young boys with no fathers, showered them with attention and gifts and took them to football games, in effect, gaining their trust . . . and then violated them in the worst way imaginable.
The victims, one-by-one, testified about Sandusky’s sexual dominance of them, forcing and performing oral and anal sex – on the Penn State campus on the basement of his home.
His adopted son, Matt Sandusky, came forward Thursday to prosecutors indicating he had been abused by Jerry Sandusky and was willing to testify as a rebuttal witness if his father took to the stand and denied the charges.
It was then, Amendola said, that he advised Sandusky to not testify on his own behalf because his son’s testimony “would have absolutely destroyed any chance of acquittal.”
When Amendola said, “Folks, there are lots of people sitting in jails across the country who are innocent,” the crowd that gathered on the courthouse steps booed and hissed.
Finally, he added: “The jury acted genuinely and in good faith. Don’t have any problem with the jury’s verdict.”
Sandusky, who will initially be placed in solitary confinement, did not seem to, either. Witnesses in the courtroom said Sandusky had no response at all as count after count was levied against him. He finally turned to his wife, Dottie, when he was about to be ushered by marshals out of the courtroom and shrugged.