By MARK SCOLFORO
BELLEFONTE — UPDATE (11:00 a.m.): 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.
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 obviously aspect is your betrayal of 10 children," Cleland said before the sentencing. "I'm not going to sentence you to centuries in prison, although the law will permit that." Still, Cleland said, he expected Sandusky to be in prison for the rest of his life.
Before sentencing, Cleland designated Sandusky as a sexually violent predator under the state's Megan's Law. Sandusky didn't oppose a review panel's finding that he be given the designation. The label essentially has no effect on Sandusky, since it requires lifetime registration with authorities 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."
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.
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."
Jerry Sandusky professed his innocence and vowed to continue fighting his child molestation conviction in a recorded statement broadcast by a student-run radio station at Penn State University on the eve of his sentencing hearing Tuesday.
In the three-minute monologue aired Monday night by Penn State Com Radio, the former Penn State assistant football coach 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 Penn State, investigators, civil attorneys, the media and others
“They can take away my life, they can make me out as a monster, they can treat me as a monster, but they can’t take away my heart,” he said. “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.”
Sandusky and at least some of his victims plan to address the judge at his sentencing Tuesday. The recording could offer a preview of the former assistant coach’s remarks.
Given the number of charges, the serious nature of his crimes and his age, the 68-year-old Sandusky faces the likelihood of a sentence that will send him to state prison for the rest of his life. Sandusky was convicted in June of abusing 10 boys over 15 years, including some attacks inside Penn State athletic facilities.
In the statement, Sandusky blames an accuser he does not name for his legal predicament.
“A young man who is dramatic, a veteran accuser, and always sought attention started everything,” Sandusky said. “He was joined by a well-orchestrated effort of the media, investigators, the system, Penn State, psychologists, civil attorneys and other accusers. They won. I’ve wondered what they really won: Attention, financial gain, prestige . will all be temporary.”
He also blamed his conviction on 45 counts of child sexual abuse on “speculation and stories.”
“We must fight unfairness, inconsistency and dishonesty. People need to be portrayed for who they really are,” Sandusky said. “We’ve not been complainers. When we couldn’t have kids, we adopted. When we didn’t have time to prepare for a trial, we still gave it our best. We will fight for another chance.”
Sandusky attorney Joe Amendola said he did not expect any others to speak on Sandusky’s behalf, although friends and family members – including his wife, Dottie – have written letters of support. Dottie Sandusky plans to attend the hearing, he said.
Tom Kline, lawyer for a young man who said Sandusky groped him in a shower when he was 12 or 13, said his client plans to read a statement Tuesday.
“He’s going to tell the judge how this has affected him, how it’s been painful and difficult,” Kline said.
Lead prosecutor Joe McGettigan said as many as a half-dozen victims are expected to be heard.
The eight victims who testified against Sandusky at trial described abuse that ranged from grooming and fondling to oral and anal sex. Sandusky did not take the stand but gave interviews shortly after his arrest in which he declared he was not guilty.
Defense attorney Karl Rominger at first said he was unaware of the recording, then called The Associated Press back early Tuesday to confirm its authenticity.
Mike Fliegelman, student general manager of the radio station, said the statement was recorded inside the county jail in Bellefonte, but he referred further questions to the station’s faculty general manager, who did not return phone messages late Monday.
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