Jerry Sandusky, the former assistant football coach for the Penn State Nittany Lions
whose arrest on child molestation charges late last year rocked the central Pennsylvania university and surrounding communities, was found guilty June 22 of 45 of the 48 counts of child sex-abuse lodged against him.
The 68-year-old will most likely spend the rest of his life behind bars for his crimes as the charges carry a combined hundreds of years of imprisonment.
Sandusky was arrested in November 2011 following a grand jury presentment. He was charged with molesting 10 boys over a 15-year time period.
Some of the incidents of rape and molestation occurred on the Penn State campus while others occurred at his Centre County home and yet others at The Second Mile, a charitable organization Sandusky founded years ago to benefit disadvantaged youth.
The trial, which began earlier this month and garnered international media attention, was originally expected to last up to three weeks, but ended up commencing after about two weeks of testimony and attorney statements.
A little before 10 p.m. last Friday evening, CNN and other media outlets began airing live footage of Sandusky being escorted by sheriff’s deputies to the Centre County Courthouse in tiny Bellefonte, Pa., which has been the center of attention since the case unfolded.
It took some time for official word of the guilty verdict to trickle down, namely because of strict Pennsylvania court rules; cameras of all forms are not allowed inside the courts and electronic transmissions, such as tweeting, were prohibited by a decorum order issued by Common Pleas Court Judge John Cleland.
Finally, shortly after 10 o’clock, Twitter messages began pouring in announcing Sandusky’s guilt.
“An outrageous cheer was audible inside the courtroom as the first spectators hit the streets,” said a tweet by Peter Hall, a reporter with the Morning Call, a daily paper in Allentown, Pa.
Other Twitter users posted messages praising Sara Ganim, a reporter with Harrisburg’s Patriot-News daily paper. The young twentysomething is credited with breaking the Sandusky story; her reporting earned her a Pulitzer Prize.
Some used Twitter to post praiseful comments about the prosecution in the case, while others used the social media site to question defense attorneys’ continued questioning of the verdict.
“Amendola: There are lots of people sitting in jails across this country who are innocent: draws jeers from crowd,” Gina Passarella, a reporter with the Legal Intelligencer newspaper in Philadelphia, tweeted while defense attorney Joseph Amendola addressed the crowd outside the courthouse.
Following the verdict, Sandusky was whisked away by deputies with the Centre County Sheriff’s Department. He was taken to the county jail, where he will likely be held until his state prison sentencing in about 90 days.
All eyes are now expected to turn toward the civil aspect of the case. Civil attorneys, some from the Philadelphia area and some from mid-state, are expected to start filing lawsuits on behalf of Sandusky’s victims against Sandusky himself, Penn State, The Second Mile and others whose negligence is alleged to have contributed to the abuse against the young boys.
Some of the civil attorneys have already taken to the airways to discuss the pending litigation; Philadelphia’s Michael Boni was interviewed by CNN last Friday night to the backdrop of images of Sandusky being led to and from the courthouse during the reading of his guilty verdict.