The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

October 10, 2012

Scandal persists despite sentence

BELLEFONTE — Headed to prison for the rest of his life, Jerry Sandusky leaves behind a trail of human and legal wreckage that could take years to clear away.

Victims face a lifetime of healing. Penn State is laboring under severe NCAA penalties. And at least four civil lawsuits have been filed against a university shamed by scandal, with more likely to come.

If Sandusky felt any remorse or pity for anyone but himself, he didn’t show it at his sentencing Tuesday. Instead, speaking in court for the first time since his arrest last November, the former Penn State assistant football coach delivered a disjointed and defiant monologue in which he denied committing “disgusting acts” against children and cast himself as the victim.

Sitting behind him were the actual victims – the young men who testified that Sandusky serially molested them when they were children, using his position of influence and authority to gain their trust and then violate their innocence.

“I am troubled with flashbacks of his naked body, something that will never be erased from my memory,” said a victim who was 13 when Sandusky lured him into a Penn State shower and forced him to touch the ex-coach. Another victim told Sandusky he suffered from “deep painful wounds that you caused and had been buried in the garden of my heart for many years.”

Sandusky, 68, was sentenced to at least 30 years in prison for sexually abusing 10 boys, a scandal that brought disgrace to Penn State and triggered the downfall of his former boss, Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno.

While the criminal case against Sandusky is over, the fallout will persist.

With Penn State facing enormous civil liability, the university has said it wants to “privately, expeditiously and fairly” settle with Sandusky’s victims.

Ben Andreozzi, an attorney for one of them, said Tuesday the university will need to do more: “It’s important they understand before we get into serious discussions about money, that there are other, noneconomic issues. We need apologies. We need changes in policy. This isn’t just about money.”

An investigation commissioned by Penn State and led by former FBI Director Louis Freeh concluded that Paterno and other top officials covered up allegations against Sandusky for more than a decade to avoid bad publicity.

After the report came out last summer, the NCAA fined Penn State a record $60 million, barred the football team from postseason play for four years, cut the number of scholarships it can award, and erased 14 years of victories for Paterno, stripping him of his standing as the winningest coach in the history of big-time college football.

Two university administrators, Gary Schultz and Tim Curley, are awaiting trial in January on charges they failed to properly report suspicions about Sandusky and lied to the grand jury that investigated him.

Given the chance to speak before learning his sentence, Sandusky chose to focus on himself.

“In my heart I did not do these alleged disgusting acts,” he said.

He described instances in which he helped children and did good works in the community, adding: “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. I’ve conformed, I’ve also been different. I’ve been me. I’ve been loved, I’ve been hated.”

About the only thing that didn’t come out of his mouth was an apology. Mental health professionals say it’s not unusual for sex offenders to avoid taking responsibility, either in a bid to get out of legal trouble or because they’re in psychological denial.

Prosecutor Joe McGettigan dismissed Sandusky’s comments as “a masterpiece of banal self-delusion, completely untethered from reality.”

Sandusky had easy access to children through The Second Mile, the charity for troubled youths he founded in the 1970s. One question left unanswered is how many more possible victims have come forward since Sandusky’s arrest last November – and how many have kept quiet.

Mitchell Garabedian, a Boston attorney who represents a 40-year-old man who says he was molested by Sandusky as a 16-year-old high school football player, said he believes Sandusky’s pedophilia goes back decades, and urged the attorney general’s office to consider another criminal prosecution.

“In all probability, he sexually molested hundreds of children over the course of decades,” Garabedian said. “He was cunning, clever and conniving.”

A spokesman for state Attorney General Linda Kelly declined comment on whether Sandusky could face additional charges, citing an ongoing grand jury investigation. But the statute of limitations would likely bar prosecutors from going after Sandusky for older crimes. Current Pennsylvania law allows them to file charges until a child victim’s 50th birthday – but only for cases involving victims born Aug. 27, 1984, or later.

With Sandusky’s attorneys preparing an appeal of his conviction and sentence, it might be wise for prosecutors to line up additional alleged victims – but only if they are willing to go through a high-profile trial, said Kristen Houser of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape.

“This case looks like it’s over as of today, but you never know where things will take a turn,” she said.

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