Former Pennsylvania State University football coach Jerry Sandusky was ordered to spend at least 30 years in prison on Tuesday for sexually abusing at-risk boys for more than a decade,a sentence likely to keep him behind bars until he dies.
Defiantly maintaining his innocence,the 68-year-old retired defensive coordinator listened as several of his victims recounted their pain to the packed courtroom. Then,he told the court: I did not do these alleged disgusting acts.
Sandusky stood motionless in a red prison jumpsuit,his back to the courtroom audience and his wife,Dottie,while Judge John Cleland handed down the 30- to 60- year sentence. It would make him at least 98 years old before being eligible for parole.
Your crime is not only what you did to their bodies,but your assault on their psyche and their souls, Cleland told him at the hearing in Centre County Court. The tragedy of this story is it is a story of betrayal. Some of your victims had a genuine affection for you. It is precisely that ability to conceal those vices from yourself and everyone else that in my view makes you dangerous, he said.
Sandusky was convicted in June on 45 counts of child abuse for molesting 10 boys over 15 years,some in the football teams showers on campus. The scandal shined a light on the devastating issue of child sexual abuse and raised pointed questions about the motivation of people who knew about Sanduskys behavior but failed for years to report a top coach vital to building Penn States successful and lucrative football program.
The decision to cast a blind eye toward Sandusky has led to harsh consequences for Penn State. Its football program has been penalised; school officials have lost jobs or face criminal charges; and the legacy of Joe Paterno,once a beloved and towering figure in college sports,has been deeply tarnished. It also faces several costly lawsuits by victims.
A LIFETIME OF MISERY
Several of the men who testified at trial that they were abused by Sandusky returned to speak at the sentencing.
In the wake of the scandal,Paterno,who held the record for victories among big-time US college football coaches in a career of more than 40 seasons,was fired,as was Penn State president Graham Spanier for failing to act on what they knew about Sanduskys behavior. Paterno died in January of lung cancer at age 85.
An investigation commissioned by Penn State trustees said university leaders knew about and covered up Sanduskys sexual abuse of children for years in an effort to protect the multimillion dollar football program.
Penn State President Rodney Erickson released a statement following the sentencing saying: While todays sentence cannot erase what has happened,hopefully it will provide comfort to those affected by these horrible events and help them continue down the road to recovery.