POSTED: 7:23 p.m. HST, Jun 22, 2012
BELLEFONTE, Pa. >> Jerry Sandusky was convicted Friday of sexually assaulting 10 boys over 15 years, a swift and emphatic end to a case that shattered Penn State University’s Happy Valley image and brought down Hall of Fame football coach Joe Paterno.
Sandusky, a 68-year-old retired defensive coach who was once Paterno’s heir apparent, was found guilty of 45 of 48 counts and is almost certain to spend the rest of his life in prison.
The jury of seven women and five men, including nine with ties to Penn State, deliberated more than 20 hours over two days.
Sandusky showed little emotion as the verdict was read. Judge John Cleland revoked his bail and ordered him taken to the county jail to await sentencing in about three months. Many of the charges carry mandatory minimum sentences.
Sandusky half-waved toward his family in the courtroom as the sheriff led him away. Outside, he calmly walked to a sheriff’s car with his hands cuffed in front of him.
The accuser known in court papers as Victim 6 broke down in tears upon hearing the verdicts, and a prosecutor embraced him and said, “Did I ever lie to you?”
The man, now 25, testified that Sandusky called himself the “tickle monster” in a shower assault. He declined to comment to a reporter afterward, but his mother said: “Nobody wins. We’ve all lost.”
Almost immediately after the judge adjourned the case, loud cheers could be heard from a couple hundred people gathered outside the courthouse as word quickly spread that Sandusky had been convicted. The crowd included victim’s advocates and local residents with their children.
As Sandusky was placed in the cruiser to be taken to jail, someone yelled at him to “rot in hell.” Others hurled insults and he shook his head no in response.
Lead defense attorney Joe Amendola was interrupted by cheers from the crowd on courthouse steps when he said, “The sentence that Jerry will receive will be a life sentence.”
Eight young men testified in a central Pennsylvania courtroom about a range of abuse, from kissing and massages to groping, oral sex and anal rape. For two other alleged victims, prosecutors relied on testimony from a university janitor and then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary, whose account of a sexual encounter between Sandusky and a boy of about 10 ultimately led to Paterno’s firing and the university president’s ouster.
Sandusky did not take the stand in his own defense, which Amendola said was a last-minute strategy change.
Defense attorney Karl Rominger said it was “a tough case” with a lot of charges and that an appeal was certain. He said the defense team “didn’t exactly have a lot of time to prepare.”
Amendola praised the prosecution, the judge and the jury and added: “Jerry indicated he was disappointed with the verdict, but obviously he has to live with it.” He said he would appeal.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly thanked the accusers who testified, calling them “brave men.”
She said she hoped the verdict “helps these victims heal ... and helps other victims of abuse to come forward.”
“One of the recurring themes in this case was: Who would believe a kid?” she said. “The answer is: We here in Bellefonte, Pa., would believe a kid.”
Sandusky repeatedly denied the allegations, and his defense suggested that his accusers had a financial motive to make up stories, years after the fact. His attorney also painted Sandusky as the victim of overzealous police investigators who coached the alleged victims into giving accusatory statements.
But jurors believed the testimony that, in the words of lead prosecutor Joseph McGettigan III, Sandusky was a “predatory pedophile.”
One accuser testified that Sandusky molested him in the locker-room showers and in hotels while trying to ensure his silence with gifts and trips to bowl games. He also said Sandusky had sent him “creepy love letters.”
Another spoke of forced oral sex and instances of rape in the basement of Sandusky’s home, including abuse that left him bleeding. He said he once tried to scream for help, knowing that Sandusky’s wife was upstairs, but figured the basement must be soundproof.
Another, a foster child, said Sandusky warned that he would never see his family again if he ever told anyone what happened.
And just hours after the case went to jurors, lawyers for one of Sandusky’s six adopted children, Matt, said he had told authorities that his father abused him.
Matt Sandusky had been prepared to testify on behalf of prosecutors, the statement said. The lawyers said they arranged for Matt Sandusky to meet with law enforcement officials but did not explain why he didn’t testify.
Amendola said Sandusky reluctantly agreed not to testify in his own behalf because the son would have been called by the prosecution as a rebuttal witness and the defense feared that would destroy any chance of acquittal.
Defense witnesses, including Jerry Sandusky’s wife, Dottie, described his philanthropic work with children over the years, and many spoke in positive terms about his reputation in the community. Prosecutors had portrayed those efforts as an effective means by which Sandusky could camouflage his molestation as he targeted boys who were the same age as participants in The Second Mile, a charity he founded in the 1970s for at-risk youth.
Sandusky’s arrest in November led the Penn State trustees to fire Paterno as head coach, saying he exhibited a lack of leadership after fielding a report from McQueary. The scandal also led to the ouster of university president Graham Spanier, and criminal charges against two university administrators for failing to properly report suspected child abuse and perjury.
The two administrators, athletic director Tim Curley and now-retired vice president Gary Schultz, are fighting the allegations and await trial.
The family of Paterno, who died exactly five months before Sandusky’s conviction, released a statement saying: “Although we understand the task of healing is just beginning, today’s verdict is an important milestone. The community owes a measure of gratitude to the jurors for their diligent service. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the victims and their families.”
In a statement, Penn State praised the accusers who testified and said that it planned to invite the victims of Sandusky’s abuse to participate in a private program to address their concerns and compensate them for claims related to the school.
Sandusky had initially faced 52 counts of sex abuse. The judge dropped four counts during the trial, saying two were unproven, one was brought under a statute that didn’t apply and another was duplicative.
BREAKDOWN OF SANDUSKY VERDICTS, BY VICTIM
Former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was convicted Friday of 45 counts of sexually abusing 10 boys. Here’s a breakdown, by victim, of what he was found guilty of doing and the three counts of which he was acquitted:
>> Victim 1: Sandusky was accused of fondling him and performing oral sex on him multiple times, in his home and State College hotels. The boy was 11-15 years old at the time. Sandusky was barred from his central Pennsylvania high school in 2009 after the boy’s mother alerted school officials, triggering the investigation that produced charges. Sandusky was found guilty of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse (two counts), indecent assault, unlawful contact with minor, corruption of minors, endangering a child’s welfare.
>> Victim 2: A boy of about 10 that a graduate assistant, Mike McQueary, has said he saw being attacked by Sandusky in the team showers in February 2001. Investigators have not been able to determine the boy’s identity. McQueary reported what he saw to head coach Joe Paterno, and Paterno’s handling of it contributed to the university’s decision to fire him shortly after Sandusky was arrested in November. Sandusky was found guilty of indecent assault, unlawful contact with minor, corruption of minors, endangering a child’s welfare. He was acquitted of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse.
>> Victim 3: Sandusky was accused of hugging him in the shower and fondling him between July 1999 and December 2001, at Sandusky’s home and in team showers. The boy was 12-14. Sandusky was found guilty of indecent assault, unlawful contact with minor, corruption of minors, endangering a child’s welfare.
>> Victim 4: Prosecutors said more than 50 incidents occurred between 1996 and 2000, at the Sandusky home, hotels and university facilities while the boy was 12-17. He also traveled with the Sandusky family to bowl games in Texas and Florida. Sandusky was convicted of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, indecent assault, unlawful contact with minor, corruption of minors, endangering a child’s welfare.
>> Victim 5: Sandusky put his hand on the boy’s leg while in a car, they showered together and he placed the boy’s hand on his genitals, according to his testimony in court. The alleged incident occurred in August 2001, while the boy was 12 or 13. Sandusky was convicted of unlawful contact with minor, corruption of minors, endangering a child’s welfare. He was acquitted of indecent assault.
>> Victim 6: While showering together in May 1998, he testified that Sandusky grabbed him and said, “I’m going to squeeze your guts out” and that the ex-coach said he was the “tickle monster.” The boy’s mother complained when he came home with wet hair, prompting a police investigation at the time that did not result in charges. The boy was 11. Sandusky was found guilty of unlawful contact with minor, corruption of minors, endangering a child’s welfare. He was acquitted of indecent assault,
>> Victim 7: They showered together and Sandusky bear hugged him in 1995-96, and more than once he put his hands down the waistband of the boy’s pants, according to the grand jury. Sandusky did not touch his genitals, the jury said. The boy was 9-11. Sandusky was found guilty of attempted indecent assault, corruption of minors, endangering a child’s welfare.
>> Victim 8: Boy of about 11 to 13, seen in late November 2000 by a university janitor allegedly being subjected to sexual abuse by Sandusky in the team showers. The janitor now has dementia and is not available to testify, but a co-worker testified to what the janitor told him. The boy has not been identified by investigators. Sandusky was convicted of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, indecent assault, unlawful contact with minor, corruption of minors, endangering a child’s welfare.
>> Victim 9: Now 18, he testified that he was sexually abused by Sandusky at the Sandusky home where he spent more than a hundred nights in a room in the basement that had a waterbed. He testified he was subject to oral then anal sex and screamed for help. He was also abused in a State College hotel and other locations between July 2005 and December 2008, according to prosecutors. He was 12-15 at the time. Sandusky was convicted of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse (two counts), indecent assault, unlawful contact with a minor, corruption of minors, endangering a child’s welfare.
>> Victim 10: Boy was subjected to sexual abuse between September 1997 and July 1999 at the Sandusky home and car and at an area pool. He testified Sandusky said he’d never see his family again if he said anything. The boy was 11. Sandusky was convicted of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse (two counts), indecent assault, unlawful contact with minor, corruption of minors, endangering a child’s welfare.
Sources: Jury verdicts, Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, trial testimony, grand jury reports.