Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was today sentenced to 30 years in prison for child sex abuse charges, effectively meaning he will spend the rest of his life in jail.
Wearing a bullet-proof vest and red jumpsuit, a defiant Jerry Sandusky gave a long, rambling statement in which he denied the allegations, talked about his life in prison and the pain of being away from his family.
The sentence, which came hours after he defiantly claimed his innocence and blamed his victims for orchestrating a conspiracy against him, means the 68-year-old cannot be released on parole before the minimum term is up. He plans to appeal.
Three of his victims told the court today of the emotional impact the abuse had on them and are said to have broken down as his sentence was read out.
One victim – who is now a father – talked about not being able to let his son out of his sight because of what happened to him at the hands of the former coach.
The judge said as he was handing down the sentence that the fact Sandusky continued to deny the crimes, ‘in my view makes you dangerous’.
Despite the fact Jerry Sandusky will die in prison after being handed a minimum 30 year sentence, many are questioning why he wasn’t given a life sentence.
Last night, the convicted child abuser released an extraordinary recorded statement from his jail cell, insisting he is innocent and blaming a slew of people for orchestrating a conspiracy against him.
Completely in denial over the decades of depravity he visited upon vulnerable young boys in his care, Jerry Sandusky: “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.”
Aired on Penn State radio, the recording continued: “In my heart, I know I did not do these alleged disgusting acts.”
“Why have so many people suffered as a result of false allegations? What’s the purpose?”
Jerry Sandusky also said he is the victim of a “well-orchestrated effort of the media, investigators, the system, Penn State, psychologists, civil attorneys” to set him up and frame him for the crimes.
In particular, Jerry Sandusky blamed the boys who came forward with the accusations of seeking “information, attention and potential perks” and calls one boy “a veteran accuser [who] always sought attention”.
In what will be a tough to hear stream of consciousness for many, the convicted sex offender went as far as to suggest that his case would “maybe it will help others”.
“Some vulnerable children who could be abused might not be because of all the publicity,” Jerry Sandusky said.
“That would be nice, but I’m not sure about it. I would cherish the opportunity to become a candle for others, as they have been a light for me.
“My wife has been my only sex partner, and that was after marriage. Our love continues.”
Joe Amendola, Jerry Sandusky’s lawyer, said he will make similar claims in court today.
Nobody else is expected to speak on Jerry Sandusky’s behalf during the sentencing hearing in Bellefonte, defense attorney Joe Amendola said.
“What I anticipate he’ll say is that he’s innocent,” Joe Amendola said outside the courthouse yesterday.
The attorney said others, including Jerry Sandusky’s wife, have submitted letters on his behalf and that Dottie Sandusky stands by her husband and will attend the sentencing.
“He’s going to fight for a new trial,” Joe Amendola said.
He said “the important thing” about sentencing for the defense “is it starts the appellate process”.
Joe Amendola made the comments yesterday afternoon before he participated in a closed-door meeting with prosecutors and Judge John Cleland to discuss hearing logistics.
Lawyers for the attorney general’s office said they would comment to reporters after the meeting.
Sentencing is expected to begin with a hearing to determine if Jerry Sandusky qualifies as a sexually violent predator under Pennsylvania’s version of Megan’s Law, after which Sandusky will be sentenced.
Jerry Sandusky will likely spend the rest of his life in prison, given his age and serious nature of his convictions of which many carry mandatory minimum sentences of five or 10 years.
Assuming Judge John Cleland gives him at least two years – the minimum threshold for a state prison sentence – Jerry Sandusky’s first stop will be the Camp Hill state prison near Harrisburg, where all male inmates undergo a couple weeks of testing to determine such things as mental and physical health, education level and any treatment needs.
Prison officials will assign him a security level risk and decide which “home prison” to send him to.
Although Jerry Sandusky’s home in the Lemont area of State College is only a couple miles from Rockview state prison, there is no way to predict where he will end up.
Because of who he is and what he’s done, depending on what kind of facility he finds himself locked away in, Jerry Sandusky could be in particular danger of sexual assault when behind bars.
His lawyer, Joe Amendola, said he expects Jerry Sandusky will be housed with nonviolent offenders at a minimum-security prison, and the Pennsylvania Corrections Department said it is committed to the safety of all inmates, though it would not comment on what it plans to do to protect Sandusky.
With thousands of inmates raped in prison in the U.S. each year, statistics compiled by the federal government show that sex offenders are roughly two to four times more likely than other inmates to fall victim.
In some ways, Jerry Sandusky, who has been held in isolation in a county jail since he was found guilty in June, is not a prime target for assault. Inmates who are young and small in stature are more likely to be sexually victimized; Jerry Sandusky is a senior citizen with an imposing frame.
Other inmates at high risk include gay men, those who have been previously victimized and those seen as timid or feminine.
But a convicted sex offender who spent 10 years in prison, and who works with other released sex offenders through the Pennsylvania Prison Society, said Jerry Sandusky won’t be able to keep a low profile.
Jerry Sandusky speaks out from behind bars
I’m responding to the worst loss of my life.
First, I looked at myself. Over and over, I asked why? Why didn’t we have a fair opportunity to prepare for trial?
Why have so many people suffered as a result of false allegations? What’s the purpose? Maybe it will help others.
Some vulnerable children who could be abused might not be because of all the publicity. That would be nice, but I’m not sure about it.
I would cherish the opportunity to become a candle for others, as they have been a light for me.
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. 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.
A young man who was dramatic, a veteran accuser and always sought attention, started everything.
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.
Before you blame me, as others have, look at everything and everybody. Look at the preparation for the trial and the trial. Compare it to others.
Think about what happened. Why, and who made it happen?
Evaluate the accusers and their families. Realize they didn’t come out of isolation. The accusers were products of many more people and experiences than me. Look at their confidants and their honesty.
Think about how easy it was for them to turn on me given the information, attention and potential perks. I never labeled or put down them or their families. I tried and I cared, then asked for the same.
Please realize all came to the Second Mile because of issues. Some of those may remain.
We will continue to fight. We didn’t lose the proven facts, evidence, accurate locations and times.
Anything can be said. We lost to speculation and stories that were influenced by people who wanted to convict me.
We must fight unfairness and consistency and dishonesty. People need to be portrayed for who they really are.
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.
We have given many second chances, and now we’ll ask for one. It will take more than our effort.
Justice will have to be more than just a word, fairness more than just a dream. It will take others: Somebody apolitical with the courage to listen, to think about the unfairness, to have the guts to stand up and take the road less traveled.
I ask for the strength to handle everything and willingness to surrender only to God, regardless of the outcome.