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.