Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant coach who was convicted of 45 counts of child sexual abuse, was sentenced to at least 30 years and not less than 60 years for his reign a torment that stunned the nation and nearly abolished a storied football program.
At 68, the sentence by judge John Cleland means Sandusky will likely die in prison, which is what many of the jurors said he deserved for manipulating youths he preyed on in his charity organization, Second Mile.
Legendary coach Joe Paterno was fired in the aftermath of Sandusky’s arrest and later died from complications of cancer.
Penn State president Rodney Erickson issued a statement that read, in part: “While today’s sentence cannot erase what has happened, hopefully it can provide comfort to those effected by those horrible events.”
Sandusky maintains his innocence and plans to appeal, a process his lawyer, Joe Amedola, has said will probably begin in the coming weeks.
Wearing a red prison-issued jump suit, Sandusky spoke for about 13 minutes before Cleland announced his decision. Sandusky said, among other things, “I feel the need to talk, not for fear or for arrogance, but for my heart. I’m filled with emotion and determination. I did not do these disgusting things.”
At one point, according to CNN, Sandusky raised his voice and said, “We’re going to smile and laugh because that’s who we are. We smile through the pain.”
Monday night, Sandusky issued an audio statement to the Penn State radio station that said, “They could take away my life, they could make me out as a monster, they can treat me as a monster, but they can’t take away my heart. In my heart, I know I did not do these alleged, disgusting acts. My wife has been my only sex partner and that was after marriage.”
He also blamed his plight on everyone but himself. “A young man who was dramatic, a veteran accuser, and always sought attention, started everything. He was joined by a well-orchestrated effort of the media, investigators, the system, Penn State, psychologists, civil attorneys and other accusers. They won.”
The victims said otherwise, at his trial three months ago and Tuesday morning at the sentencing hearing.
“I don’t know if I can ever forgive you,” Victim No. 4, looking at the former coach. “I don’t know if I can ever forgive you.”
Victim No. 6 said, “That night you told you were the Tickle Monster so you could play with my 11-year-old body. I realize (now) just how much you manipulated me.”
Victim No. 5 said through tears, said: “The sentence will never erase what he did to me. It will never make me whole. He must pay for his crimes and take into account the tears, the pain, the private anguish.”
Judge Cleland said in his statement: “This is a tragedy. . . about real betrayal, not just of the heart but of the soul.”
Sandusky will spend about a month undergoing evaluations before he is transferred to a Pennsylvania prison where he will serve his sentence.