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Sandusky guilty on 45 of 48 counts, faces life in prison

| Friday, June 22, 2012, 10:58 a.m.
Jerry Sandusky leaves the Centre County Courthouse Friday, June 22, 2012, after being found guilty in his sexual abuse trial, in Bellefonte.  Sandusky was convicted of sexually assaulting 10 boys over 15 years Friday, accusations that had sent shock waves through the college campus known as Happy Valley and led to the firing of Penn State's beloved Hall of Fame coach, Joe Paterno. (AP Photo/Centre Daily Times, Nabil K. Mark)
Jerry Sandusky leaves the Centre County Courthouse Friday, June 22, 2012, after being found guilty in his sexual abuse trial, in Bellefonte. Sandusky was convicted of sexually assaulting 10 boys over 15 years Friday, accusations that had sent shock waves through the college campus known as Happy Valley and led to the firing of Penn State's beloved Hall of Fame coach, Joe Paterno. (AP Photo/Centre Daily Times, Nabil K. Mark)
Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky arrives at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte on Friday, June 22, 2012. Sandusky is accused of sexual abuse of 10 boys over a 15-year period. 
AP
Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky arrives at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte on Friday, June 22, 2012. Sandusky is accused of sexual abuse of 10 boys over a 15-year period. AP

BELLEFONTE — Jerry Sandusky faces life in prison for his conviction on Friday on charges he sexually abused boys he met through a charity for troubled youths.

The Centre County jury of seven women and five men that heard seven days of testimony spent two days deliberating and returned guilty verdicts about 10:10 p.m. on 45 of 48 charges.

A cheer went up on the streets outside the courthouse when the verdict was announced.

Sandusky showed no emotion as he was led away from court after Judge John M. Cleland, acting at the request of Senior Deputy Attorney General Joseph McGettigan, revoked his bail.

“He was convicted,” lead defense attorney Joseph Amendola said when asked what his client had to say to the victims.

“So I guess they can take solace in that, but he still maintains his innocence.”

When asked if Sandusky was prepared to go to prison, Amendola said, “Yes.”

As the jury foreman read the first guilty verdict, Sandusky, 68, hung his head and put his hand in his pocket.

Cleland ordered Sandusky to undergo a psychiatric evaluation before sentencing.

Sentencing is expected within 90 days.

“First, I want to thank the jury for their willingness to serve on such a difficult case,'' Gov. Tom Corbett said in an emailed statement. Corbett was attorney general when the investigation began.

“I also want to commend the multiple victims in this case who had the courage to come forward and testify in court, confronting Sandusky, and proving beyond a reasonable doubt that he is guilty of these reprehensible crimes,” he said.

Among the 45 guilty counts, the jury found Sandusky guilty on eight counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and six counts of indecent assault.

The three not-guilty counts included one of indecent assault involving the accuser known as “Victim 5,” one involuntary deviate sexual intercourse count involving “Victim 2” and indecent assault involving “Victim 6.”

Jurors decided against granting interviews, a court official said.

Attorney General Linda Kelly received applause from the crowd outside as she, McGettigan and fellow prosecutors Frank Fina and Jonelle Eshbach spoke.

Kelly said the victims in the case showed “great strength and courage in this investigation,” telling their stories not only to jurors but to the world.

“This trial is not something they sought,” Kelly said of the accusers. She called sexual abuse “a crime that thrives in darkness.”

Sandusky, a retired Penn State football defensive coordinator, made a national name for himself as an advocate for at-risk children and the founder of the Second Mile charity before state prosecutors arrested him last fall and charged him with sexually abusing 10 boys over 15 years in his home, hotels and Penn State facilities. Authorities said he used the charity to recruit fatherless boys whom he groomed for sexual relations.

“What a shame that one man could bring an entire university and community down like he has,” said Terri Pfaff, 64, of Bellefonte, one of the hundreds of people who gathered outside the courthouse to hear the news.

Prosecutors with the state Attorney General's office said Sandusky found many of his victims through the nonprofit group Second Mile. The accusers testified to having met Sandusky through the group's events and programs.

Jurors heard from eight accusers. Witnesses described attacks on two other unidentified children.

Their statements in court pointed toward a pattern: Sandusky would take an interest in a particular Second Mile participant, then invite him for one-on-one activities, according to their testimony.

It wasn't long before the attention turned to physical affection and then to escalating sexual abuse, many of the young men testified. Some said they had seen Sandusky as a father figure and repressed memories of sexual attacks.

“The legal process has spoken and we have tremendous respect for the men who came forward to tell their stories publicly,” read a statement from Penn State issued about 11 p.m. “No verdict can undo the pain and suffering caused by Mr. Sandusky, but we do hope this judgment helps the victims and their families along their path to healing.”

Sandusky's defense team, led by Amendola, made multiple attempts to undermine the prosecution case. In closing arguments, Amendola said state police investigators had “screwed up” and may have planted ideas with the accusers.

Amendola pointed out inconsistencies in accusers' various accounts of the abuse. Amendola said many of the young men knew one another, suggesting perhaps they conspired together and may have been out for financial gain.

“He had been determined to be guilty by the public and the media from the very outset,” Amendola told reporters after the verdict.

He explained why Sandusky did not testify.

Late last week, Amendola said, Sandusky's adopted son Matthew approached prosecutors to say his adoptive father abused him.

If Jerry Sandusky had gone forward to testify as planned, it would have opened the door for testimony from Matthew Sandusky, Amendola said. The defense team worried that would undermine the chance for an acquittal.

Jerry Sandusky wanted to testify, anyway, Amendola said.

The grand jury report charging Sandusky with abusing boys rocked Penn State and triggered a chain of events culminating in the ouster of university President Graham Spanier and storied football coach Joe Paterno as well as two college administrators, charged with covering up allegations of abuse against Sandusky in 2001 and then lying about it to authorities.

Athletic director Tim Curley and retired vice president of finance Gary Schultz, both of whom claim they are innocent, await trial on those charges.

Penn State has paid out more than $10 million in legal and consulting costs related to the scandal since November and could be headed toward millions more in costs. The university has offered to underwrite counseling costs for Sandusky's victims, and President Rodney Erickson has said it will attempt to settle victims' claims out of court.

Charlotte Burcin of Bellefonte, a grandmother of seven who attended the hearing, said she was certain the jury would find Sandusky guilty.

“I felt sorry for those boys. I was crying with happiness when they convicted him,” she said.

Kathy Sulkowski, 55, of State College, a friend of the Sanduskys who attended the trial to support them, was crushed by the verdict.

“I honestly didn't think it would come to this,” she said, trembling. “(Jurors) should have looked further. A lot of us who were in court every day saw things that weren't brought out in the reports. My fear is in the future anyone who wanted to be mean could say things and you could go to jail on hearsay. There was no physical evidence in this case.”

Sequestered in a hotel for the duration of their deliberations, jurors were not aware of the drama that unfolded over the past two days when Matthew Sandusky's accusation became public. Also this week, Travis Weaver, 30, said on national television that Sandusky, 68, abused him more than 100 times since the two met in 1992.

Weaver, who is not a party in the criminal trial in Centre County, is cooperating fully with the state Attorney General's Office, his lawyer Marci Hamilton said.

She said prosecutors will “make their announcement whenever they're ready.” Hamilton, a professor at Cardozo School of Law in New York, declined to elaborate.

The Attorney General's Office did not comment, citing a gag order in the Sandusky case. Weaver filed a civil lawsuit against Sandusky, Penn State and the Second Mile. The suit alleges the organizations failed to ensure that children participating in their events and activities were safe, and it seeks at least $400,000 in monetary damages.

Amendola told reporters that Sandusky was tired but remained optimistic yesterday.

“I'll probably die of a heart attack” if Sandusky is found not guilty on all counts, Amendola said. He called the ordeal “a daunting, daunting case.”

“I did the best I could under the circumstances,” Amendola said before the verdict was returned, at times joking with reporters in an impromptu exchange.

He said Sandusky has said he's happy with the defense team's efforts.

“Jerry and I have gotten very close. ... He's a pleasure,” Amendola said.

Earlier in the day, jurors asked for a reading of testimony by Mike McQueary, a former assistant football coach, and Jonathan Dranov, a local physician. That review took about two hours.

McQueary testified that he saw what he described as a sexual encounter between Sandusky and a boy about 10 years old in a locker room shower in 2001.

The jury broke for lunch, then returned to the courtroom about 3:15 p.m. with a question about evidence. Jurors asked Judge John M. Cleland to reread his instructions on the law regarding an “excited utterance” by a former Penn State janitor who told fellow janitors that he saw Sandusky abusing a child in a locker room shower in 2000.

Adam Smeltz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5676 or asmeltz@tribweb.com. Debra Erdley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7996 or derdley@tribweb.com.

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