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Archive for Friday, June 22, 2012

Verdict reached in Sandusky child sex abuse trial: guilty on 45 of 48 counts

June 22, 2012, 9:12 p.m. Updated June 22, 2012, 9:25 p.m.

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— 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.

Comments

tomcats 1 year, 9 months ago

Bubba will show Sandusky the love and affection to him..... like he did All of his victims.

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akt2 1 year, 9 months ago

Why divorce him. Wait till he dies in prison, of whatever reason and collect his life insurance and social security benefits. She will always be known as his enabling spouse so it won't matter if she divorces him or not. I also wonder why some pedophiles prefer young girls and others like this one want boys.

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tomatogrower 1 year, 9 months ago

I'm sure his wife enjoyed her life of privilege, and didn't want to rock the boat. In cases where the wife is physically beaten, if the family, especially the husband's, is in a well respected, monied position in the community, it is harder for the woman to leave. She has a lot to lose, and many times the community will believe her, not her charming, successful husband. I'll bet that was the same situation here. She must preserve the family name and position. She continues to protect him for the same reason. Also, maybe she knew he would be convicted, and now she gets everything when she divorces him.

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OldEnuf2BYurDad 1 year, 9 months ago

I would assume that Dottie also came from a family where children were likewise abused. You can't be that blind/in denial without some training, and most healthy women can sniff out a predator before getting married to one.

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Patricia Davis 1 year, 9 months ago

Now let the civil suits begin and lead to more sunlight being poured on the role the Penn State family played in all of this horror. I think healing and redemption often start when those who did the crime or covered up the crime have to give up what they love the most and that's usually power and money.

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Matthew Herbert 1 year, 9 months ago

the final chapter in the legacy of Joe Pa has been written.

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Jayhawk_4_Life 1 year, 9 months ago

Later Sandusky, hope all the inmates show you exactly the same respect as you did your victims.

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buffalo63 1 year, 9 months ago

It was interesting to me that Penn. law would not let experts testify on the effects of abuse on children, but experts were allowed to try an explain away his interaction with the children. I am glad the jury didn't buy that reasoning. Just too bad he wasn't stopped sooner.

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middlemgmt 1 year, 9 months ago

Why would a woman stand up for her husband after she found out her own son was abused? I'm sure she knew that Matt came forward before the trial. I'm glad he will spend his final days in jail but I would like to know how police have cleared the wife.

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password 1 year, 9 months ago

it's too bad he can't endure some of the pain he caused his victims.... oh wait.. he probably would enjoy that. never mind. glad he's going away for good. it's hard to believe his wife was so supportive of him.

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Bob Harvey 1 year, 9 months ago

It is also so sad that a university seemingly did all they could to hide this to protect it's saint like coach and it's football program. And to think when I left active duty I almost went to Penn State. How sad, how very sad. May this man face the penalty he deserves in prison.

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tomatogrower 1 year, 9 months ago

Good, let him spend his old days in prison.

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