Jerry Sandusky, the former Pennsylvania State University assistant football coach accused of molesting young boys, was found guilty by a Pennsylvania jury late on Friday.
Jurors in state court in Bellefonte deliberated about 20 hours over two days before convicting Sandusky of 45 charges including engaging in involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with someone under 16 and aggravated indecent assault over his abuse of 10 boys over a 15-year-period.
|Sandusky is led out of the courtroom in Bellefonte, Pa., in handcuffs after his conviction. (AP Photo)
The 68-year-old Sandusky faces maximum sentences of 20 years a piece on each abuse conviction, meaning he could spend the rest of his life in prison after he is sentenced by Judge John Cleland.
Sandusky has been under house arrest since waiving a preliminary hearing in December. The former defensive coordinator for Penn State’s Nittany Lions football squad was charged with 48 criminal counts related to the alleged abuse of 10 boys he met through a charity he founded for needy children. The charges included involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with children under 16.
Calling it a “daunting, daunting case,” lead defense attorney Joseph Amendola said today at the courthouse before the verdict that he would be shocked if his client was acquitted on all counts, the Associated Press reported. Amendola also said that Sandusky had his wife, Dottie Sandusky, talk to a criminal defense lawyer, “just to be careful,” the AP reported.
Sandusky played and coached under Joe Paterno, Penn State’s legendary head football coach, for more than 30 years before retiring in 1999. Paterno, who died in January, and ex-university President Graham Spanier were fired amid criticism they didn’t do enough to stop Sandusky’s alleged abuse.
After deliberations began, lawyers for one of Jerry Sandusky’s adopted children, Matt Sandusky, said he had been abused by the former coach and had offered to testify in the case, the New York Times reported. Andrew Shubin and Justine Andronici, Matt Sandusky’s lawyers, said in a statement that they arranged a meeting between him and prosecutors and investigators at their client’s request, according to the Times. They gave no details and didn’t say why prosecutors didn’t call Matt Sandusky to testify, the newspaper said.
Matt Sandusky’s lawyers didn’t return calls seeking further comment and one of Jerry Sandusky’s attorneys, Karl Rominger, declined to respond to the statement, the Times said. Matt Sandusky, 33, had repeatedly denied being abused after the elder Sandusky’s arrest, the newspaper said.
Paterno coached the team to 409 wins, a record at college football’s highest level. The victories included two national championships and a record 24 bowl victories in 46 seasons as head coach at one of college football’s most prestigious programs.
Two other Penn State officials, athletic director Timothy Curley and former Vice President Gary Schultz, were charged with perjury and failing to report allegations of sex abuse.
Sandusky was initially accused Nov. 5 of crimes involving eight boys. Prosecutors added more counts the following month when two new accusers came forward.
During the almost two-week trial, prosecutors portrayed Sandusky as a serial child molester who used the Second Mile, the charity he founded, to recruit his victims, befriending them and “grooming” them with gifts, trips to Penn State football games and money.
Amendola argued throughout the trial that the coach was innocent of the charges, which were the product of overzealous investigators. Sandusky didn’t testify.
Many of the incidents allegedly took place in a locker room in the Lasch Football Building on Penn State’s campus. Assistant football coach Mike McQueary told jurors about witnessing a late-night assault in the football locker room when he was a graduate assistant.
A number of Sandusky’s victims took the witness stand to recount their dealings with the coach, both at his home and on campus.
A 28-year-old man who met Sandusky through Second Mile testified that the ex-coach began touching him inappropriately in 1997. He was identified in court papers as “Victim 4.”
The man said Sandusky invited him to play racquetball at Penn State when he was a 14-year-old student at a local high school. Afterwards, Sandusky would touch his genitals as the two “soaped up” in the shower, the victim testified.
Sandusky enticed him into a long-term relationship by giving the student sideline passes to Penn State football games, taking him to golf outings and inviting him to family picnics, the man said.
The abuse progressed to the point that Sandusky began forcing him to perform oral sex, the man said. That occurred more than 40 times during the five-year relationship, he said.
The man said as he matured, he distanced himself from Sandusky and the coach would sometimes come over to his house looking for him.
“Sometimes if I got home I would look outside and he’d be there and I’d grab the phone and hide in the closet, just hoping he wouldn’t find me,” the man told jurors.
Second Mile served children with physical, emotional and academic needs, according to its website. The charity said in May that it would close and transfer its assets to a Houston- based nonprofit.
Those assets more than tripled from 2002 through 2009, according to Internal Revenue Service filings. Second Mile had revenue of $2.7 million and net assets of $9 million, according to its 2010 annual report. Sandusky was the group’s primary fundraiser.
Throughout the trial, Amendola sought to convince jurors that state police troopers who investigated the cases against Sandusky coached witnesses into making the sexual abuse claims. He also produced other retired Penn State football coaches to testify about Sandusky’s sterling reputation within the community.
Dottie Sandusky, the defendant’s wife, told jurors she never had any indication that her husband abused boys that he befriended over the years.
When Amendola asked her if she could think of any reason any of the alleged victims would lie about her husband of 45 years, she answered, “I don’t know what it would be.”
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