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Updated Oct 9, 2012 - 7:32 pm

Defiant Sandusky sentenced to at least 30 years

BELLEFONTE, Pa. — Jerry Sandusky was sentenced Tuesday to at least 30
years in prison — effectively a life sentence — in the child sexual abuse
scandal that brought shame to Penn State and led to coach Joe Paterno’s
downfall.

A defiant Sandusky gave a rambling statement in which he denied the allegations
and talked about his life in prison and the pain of being away from his family.

Three victims spoke, often fighting back tears. One looked Sandusky in the eyes
at times.

The 68-year-old former Penn State assistant coach was found guilty in June of
45 counts of child sexual abuse, convicted of molesting 10 boys over a 15-year
period. Witnesses said Sandusky used the charitable organization he founded for
troubled children as his personal hunting ground to find and groom boys to
become his victims.

His arrest 11 months ago, and the details that came out during his trial over
the summer, transformed Sandusky’s public image from a college coach who had
been widely admired for his work with The Second Mile charity into that of a
reviled pervert who preyed on the very youngsters who sought his help.

Eight of the boys he was found guilty of molesting testified at his trial,
describing a range of abuse that included fondling, oral sex and anal
intercourse. One of the prosecution’s star witnesses, former graduate assistant
Mike McQueary, testified that he saw Sandusky raping a boy in a locker room
shower.

Among the three who spoke Tuesday, a young man who said he was 11 when Sandusky
groped him in a shower in 1998. He said Sandusky is in denial and should “stop
coming up with excuses.”

“I’ve been left with deep painful wounds that you caused and had been buried
in the garden of my heart for many years,” he said.

Another man said he was 13 when, in 2001, Sandusky lured him into a Penn State
sauna and then a shower and then forced him to touch the ex-coach.

“I am troubled with flashbacks of his naked body, something that will never be
erased from my memory,” he said. “Jerry has harmed children, of which I am one
of them.”

Sandusky has consistently maintained his innocence and plans to appeal. One
element of the appeal is expected to be a claim that the defense did not have
time to adequately prepare for trial. Sandusky was charged in November,
following a lengthy investigation.

In a three-minute monologue aired Monday night by Penn State Com Radio that
used some of the same language as his courtroom statement, Sandusky said he
knows in his heart that he did not do what he called “these alleged disgusting
acts” and described himself as the victim of a coordinated conspiracy among
Penn State, investigators, civil attorneys, the media and others.

His statement in court lasted 15 minutes and his voice cracked as he spoke of
missing his loved ones.

“I speak today with hope in my heart for a brighter day, not knowing if that
day will come,” Sandusky said. “Many moments have been spent looking for a
purpose. Maybe it will help others, some vulnerable children who might have been
abused, might not be, as a result of the publicity.”

His statement included numerous sports references: He said he once told his
wife “we’re definitely in the fourth quarter” and he referenced the movie
“Seabiscuit.”

He also spoke of instances in which he said he helped children.

“I’ve forgiven, I’ve been forgiven. I’ve comforted others, I’ve been
comforted. I’ve been kissed by dogs, I’ve been bit by dogs,” he said. “I’ve
conformed, I’ve also been different. I’ve been me. I’ve been loved, I’ve been
hated.”

Judge John Cleland sentenced him to 30 to 60 years in prison. Under
Pennsylvania law, Sandusky cannot be released on parole before the minimum term
is up.

“The tragedy of this crime is that it’s a story of betrayal. The most obvious
aspect is your betrayal of 10 children,” Cleland told Sandusky.

“I’m not going
to sentence you to centuries in prison, although the law will permit that.”
Still, Cleland said, he expected Sandusky to die in prison.

Before sentencing, Cleland designated Sandusky as a sexually violent predator
under the state’s Megan’s Law. The label essentially has no effect on Sandusky,
since its requirement is lifetime registration after a convict is released from
prison.

In sentencing the ex-coach, Cleland called Sandusky dangerous, saying, “You
abused the trust of those who trusted you.” He also called Sandusky’s comments
about a conspiracy against him “unbelievable.”

The scandal brought devastation in State College that will take years to fully
assess, as Sandusky’s victims are pressing civil claims and a January trial is
pending for Gary Schultz and Tim Curley, two university administrators charged
with failing to properly report suspicions about Sandusky and lying to the grand
jury that investigated him.

Soon after the three were arrested in November, the board of trustees fired
Paterno, the school’s most famous figure and a man who won two national college
football championships in the 1980s. Paterno died of lung cancer in January.

Over the summer, an investigation commissioned by the university and led by
former FBI Director Louis Freeh concluded that Paterno and other top officials
covered up allegations against Sandusky for years to avoid bad publicity.

The scandal also toppled university President Graham Spanier and led to
crippling NCAA sanctions against the football team that included a $60 million
fine, a ban on postseason play and a reduction in the number of football
scholarships the school can award. The NCAA also erased 14 years of victories
for Paterno, stripping him of his standing as major college football’s
winningest coach.

At least four young men have sued Penn State over the way the university
responded to disturbing complaints about Sandusky.

Eight legal teams representing at least 20 young men have surfaced, and the
school recently announced an effort to settle as many claims as possible by the
end of the year.

Penn State President Rodney Erickson released a statement shortly after the
sentence was handed down.

“Our thoughts today, as they have been for the last year, go out to the
victims of Jerry Sandusky’s abuse,” Erickson said. “While today’s sentence
cannot erase what has happened, hopefully it will provide comfort to those
affected by these horrible events.”

The third victim who spoke had testified that he was raped over the course of
years by Sandusky, including on team trips to bowl games in Texas and Florida.

“I want you to know I don’t forgive you and I don’t know if I will ever
forgive you,” he said. “My only regret is that I didn’t come forward sooner.”

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