Convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky, a onetime highly regarded member of the Penn
State Nittany Lions coaching staff, learned his fate Tuesday morning – three to six decades behind bars.
Sandusky, once an assistant football coach at the state university, was sentenced by Judge John M. Cleland to 30 to 60 years in state prison for sexually abusing 10 underage boys during a 15-year time period.
The former defensive coordinator, who had been arrested last November, was found guilty of the 45 out of 48 counts of child sex-abuse against him during a two-week jury trial this summer.
Sandusky could have faced a combined hundreds of years behind bars, but Cleland, the judge specially assigned to oversee the case in Centre County, didn’t view that as necessary, according to local media reports.
“I’m not going to sentence you to centuries in prison, although the law would permit that,” Cleland said during sentencing, as quoted by the Harrisburg Patriot-News. “It’s too abstract, only a big number. You are sentenced to spend not less than 30 and not more than 60 years in prison; that has the unmistakable impact of saying the rest of your life.”
The newspaper quoted Cleland as telling Sandusky that his crimes not only affected the physical bodies of his victims, but also constituted an “assault to their psyches and souls and the assault to the well being of the larger community in which we all live.”
The paper also noted that one of Sandusky’s assault victims, known only as Victim 1, put together a victim impact statement in which he called Sandusky evil incarnate.
“There is no remorse. There is no acknowledgement of regret, only evil,” read the statement, which was recited by Chief Deputy Attorney General Joe McGettigan, who had prosecuted the case. “My years with Jerry Sandusky were taken from me. I just wanted a childhood like everyone else.”
Four other victims spoke out against Sandusky during the sentencing hearing, the Patriot-News reported, including one who chastised Sandusky for not pleading guilty and sparing the victims from a public trial, but rather using the platform as an opportunity to attack the credibility of the young men, including himself.
A statement from Victim 4, the paper reported, said the man will never forgive Sandusky for what he did.
“My only regret is that I didn’t come forward sooner,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, Sandusky released his own statement to the media in which he continued to profess his innocence, and blame the victims, prosecutors and the media in a grand conspiracy to tarnish his name.
“They can 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,” Sandusky says in the audio statement, which was recorded in prison. “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. Our love continues.”
Sandusky, as well as Penn State itself, still face civil claims that are pending in state court by sex-abuse victims.
Last week, the university announced that its costs relating to the child sex-abuse scandal, which include internal investigations and legal fees, had topped nearly to $20 million by the end of July.