Sentence of 30-60 years for Sandusky deemed 'just'
BELLEFONTE — The wounds haven't healed for Jerry Sandusky's victims.
In letters and testimony on Tuesday, five of the men Sandusky sexually abused as children described the lingering pain inflicted on them by the community icon who was a father figure.
Sandusky's sentence of 30 to 60 years in prison might be the first step in healing not only for his victims, but for students, faculty, alumni and the Penn State University community, as well as for people across the nation stunned by the arrest in November of the once-revered assistant football coach. Judge John Cleland told Sandusky, 68, the sentence means he will be behind bars for “the rest of your life.”
Attorney Matt Casey, who represents numerous victims suing the university, said, “They collectively all wanted him to get what amounted to a life sentence. They all wanted to make sure he's not able to do this to someone else.”
Lawyer Tom Kline, who represents Victim 5, said, “The sentence is just. Sandusky spent 30 years roaming the Penn State campus and The Second Mile perpetrating these crimes.”
Sandusky's arrest in November triggered a chain of events that included the removal of Penn State President Graham Spanier and the firing of longtime football coach Joe Paterno, who died of cancer in January. A university-paid investigation by former FBI director Louis Freeh concluded top university officials engaged in a 14-year cover-up.
The NCAA in July imposed a $60 million fine on Penn State, along with a four-year ban on football bowl games and a reduction in football scholarships. The university faces multimillion-dollar lawsuits stemming from Sandusky's acts and the cover-up.
In court, Sandusky took no responsibility for his actions or their ramifications. He offered no remorse.
“I didn't do these alleged disgusting acts,” Sandusky told the court.
The statement was “a masterpiece of self-delusion ... as if he were the victim,” chief prosecutor Joe McGettigan said. “It was, in short, ridiculous.”
Defense attorney Joe Amendola said he will appeal Sandusky's conviction based on the rushed trial schedule and the denial of continuances.
“We had 4 1⁄2 months, flying by the seat of our pants,” Amendola said.
A jury of seven women and five men convicted Sandusky of 45 charges in June after a nine-day trial, which drew national media coverage. Testimony revealed Sandusky used The Second Mile, a charity he founded, to prey on children he groomed and sexually assaulted in his home, hotels and in Penn State University facilities.
McGettigan called Sandusky “the most insidious and depraved of criminals.” He read a statement from the young man identified as “Victim No. 1,” who said he cannot put into words the “pain and misery (Sandusky) caused me.”
“Jerry Sandusky humiliated me beyond description,” the man's statement reads.
Larry Cata Backer, chair of the university faculty senate and a Penn State law professor, said the sentencing “brings firmly to a close that portion of the events that has caused so many people so much pain, and I think more for the victims of these horrific events than the university itself.”
Still, while it is a first step for many, there are years of litigation and other cases ahead.
Former athletic director Tim Curley and retired Vice President Gary Schultz are slated for trial in January on charges of perjury and failure to report child abuse. Their attorneys declined comment on the sentencing as did Spanier, who faces potential legal exposure.
Federal authorities are investigating whether the university complied with the Cleary Act on reporting campus crimes. Potentially, a loss of federal funds is at stake.
“Our thoughts today, as they have been for the last year, go out to the victims of Jerry Sandusky's abuse,” Penn State President Rodney Erickson said. “While today's 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.”
Penn State signaled it is willing to resolve the civil cases, Casey said, “But the devil is in the details.”
Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, who initiated the investigation while serving as state attorney general, praised prosecutors and investigators.
“I want to especially commend the victims in the case, who had the courage to come forward and testify in open court, in spite of tremendous pressure and national publicity,” Corbett said.House Democrats want to vote on a resolution that would ask for a federal investigation into the Sandusky prosecution and why it took so long to bring the case to trial. The GOP-controlled House has not brought the resolution up for a vote.
There was no sympathy on campus for the former coach.
“He deserved more than that, in my opinion, just for everything he's caused the victims and their families,” said Courtney Lennartz, 21, a Penn State senior from Waldorf, Md., and president of the University Park Undergraduate Association.
But, Lennartz added, “This does bring some sort of closure to us. We've been trying to move forward while at the same time not forgetting what's happened.”