A noticeably-thinner Jerry Sandusky arrived in Centre County court in a red jumpsuit this morning, carrying a manila envelope likely containing his declaration of innocence he will read to the court during his sentencing today.
The former Penn State football defensive coordinator is facing 10 to 400 years in prison for the 45 counts of child molestation he was convicted of in June. At age 68, any significant sentence could mean life in prison.
Sandusky’s wife, Dottie, smiled at people gathered at the courthouse as she entered with her daughter, Kara, who waved. The pair arrived with Sandusky’s attorney, Joseph Amendola, for the hearing.
Judge John Cleland will begin the hearing by determining whether Sandusky is a sexually violent predator, a classification that will force Sandusky to register as a sex offender if he is ever released from jail.
Following the classification, the sentencing phase of the hearing will begin, with both Sandusky and his victims set to make statements about his future in prison.
“They can take away my life, they can make me out as a monster, they can treat me as a monster, but they can’t take away my heart,” Sandusky said on the recording. “In my heart, I know I did not do these alleged, disgusting acts. My wife has been my only sex partner and that was after marriage. Our love continues.”
Sandusky’s family members have written letters to the judge on his behalf, Amendola said. They will not testify at the hearing.
Sandusky’s denial of guilt drew an angry response from Thomas Kline, the attorney for one of his victims, who called the statement, “a lashing out on the eve on his sentencing.”
“There is no chance that Mr. Sandusky was innocent,” Kline said. “It is preposterous to suggest that 10 separate victims, their families, their parents, their lawyers, the prosecutors, and the press and everyone else conspired to somehow convict Mr. Sandusky.”
Kline’s client, the man known as Victim 5, will testify with about six other victims in the case, according to prosecutors.
Sandusky was found guilty of sexually abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period, all of whom he met and befriended through the charity he founded for underprivileged youth, the Second Mile. The victims who testified at Sandusky’s June trial said that he touched them and forced them to engage in sex acts at the Penn State locker room showers and in his home.
The accusations against Sandusky also implicated the Penn State football program and the university in helping to cover up his crimes and keep them quiet for years. Legendary head coach Joe Paterno was fired from his job for not doing enough to protect children after an assistant coach reported to Paterno that he had seen Sandusky engaging in sexual behavior with a boy on campus.
The Penn State University president, Graham Spanier, also lost his job, and the athletic director and vice president for finance at the college were charged with perjury and failure to report child abuse for their knowledge of the crimes.
Paterno died in January, saying that he wished he had done more with his knowledge of the crimes, while Spanier, Curley, and Schultz have maintained their innocence.
“You can chose to be in denial about everything you have done, (but) you are only fooling yourself,” said the man identified as Victim 6. “It is time to stop coming up with excuses for your behavior. If you admit your guilt to God, he will forgive you. If you don’t, you won’t be able to receive forgiveness.”
“You took something from him that can never be replaced,” the statement from Victim 9’s mother read. “Sorry will never be enough. There is no punishment sufficient for you. When you admit your wrongdoing, maybe, maybe you will be forgiven. ”
The victims who testified at Sandusky’s June trial said that he touched them and forced them to engage in sex acts at the Penn State locker room showers and in his home.
Penn State University president Graham Spanier, who lost his job, athletic director Tim Curley and vice president for finance Gary Schultz were charged with perjury and failure to report child abuse for their knowledge of the crimes.
Head coach Joe Paterno died in January, saying that he wished he had done more with his knowledge of the crimes, while Spanier, Curley, and Schultz, have maintained their innocence.
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