GUILTY: Jury convicts Jerry Sandusky on 45 of 48 sexual abuse counts

State College - Centre Daily TimesJune 22, 2012 

— Jerry Sandusky looked down, his left hand resting in his pants pocket. The jury foreman read off a verdict that was guilty after guilty after guilty, in all 45 of the 48 counts against him.

And just like that, after seven minutes, the criminal case against the former Penn State defensive coordinator — which rocked this community, led to the firing of a beloved football coach and the university president and saw two Penn State administrators charged with covering up Sandusky’s abuse — was over.

A Centre County jury that Sandusky had so passionately wanted took about 20 hours over two days to return a verdict shortly before 10 p.m. Friday, convicting the once-respected former coach now hated by his community for sexually abusing 10 boys he met through The Second Mile, eight of whom testified against him.

Sandusky was found not guilty on three counts — the most serious charge of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, involving victim No. 2, and a count of indecent assault against victims No. 5 and 6. But he was convicted on all counts involving the other seven victims.

“Centre County was in the spotlight. Centre County stood up and said this is wrong,” said Nils Frederiksen, a spokesman for state Attorney General Linda Kelly.

Outside the courthouse on a humid night, a crowd of hundreds roared with cheers after a reporter bounded out the door to deliver the word of the conviction.

Senior Judge John Cleland revoked Sandusky’s bail upon the request of the lead prosecutor, Joseph E. McGettigan III. Sandusky was escorted out of the courthouse in handcuffs by Sheriff Denny Nau.

Sandusky was taken to the Centre County Correctional Facility, where he’ll remain until he’s sentenced.

A date for his sentencing hearing hasn’t been scheduled, but it will take place within 90 days.

Sandusky was ordered to go before the state’s Sexual Offenders Assessment Board for evaluation. Whatever prison term the judge decides to impose is likely to be a life sentence for Sandusky, 68.

Jurors declined through state court officials to discuss their deliberations with the media.

Inside the courtroom after the verdict was read, prosecutors and investigators hugged in elation.

The 25-year-old young man known as victim No. 6, who was 11 when Sandusky took him to a workout and then showered with him in 1998, was overcome with emotion, as he put his head down and was consoled by his two sisters and his mother.

“Nobody wins. We’ve all lost,” the mother said and turned to hug her son.

Minutes later, the young man shook hands with Kelly and hugged investigators in the case.

He was the only victim in the courtroom for the verdict.

Sandusky’s wife, Dottie, at least on the outside, held herself together during the verdict for as long as she stayed in the courtroom.

“She still believes her husband is innocent,” defense attorney Joe Amendola said.

But her son Jeff Sandusky was visibly upset, with his head in his hands.

Andrew Shubin, an attorney representing Matt Sandusky, said he was made aware of the verdict.

Matt Sandusky went public Thursday claiming he was abused by Jerry Sandusky. Matt Sandusky was going to testify against his adoptive father, which was the reason Jerry Sandusky did not take the stand, Amendola said.

Amendola said he doesn’t know why Matt Sandusky approached the prosecution about testifying, adding that it undercut the defense whose strategy always was to have Jerry Sandusky testify.

“We had anticipated that Matt Sandusky would be one of our witnesses, so we were shocked by what happened,” Amendola said. “His parents and siblings were shocked by it.”

The young men who testified against Sandusky were notified of the verdicts by either their attorneys or the investigators.

Shubin and attorney Justine Andronici, who represented victims 3 and 7, called the case “a turning point.”

“Because of these brave men, the public now knows much more about the horrors of childhood sexual abuse, better understands the challenges survivors face, and more fully appreciates the important of holding child sexual abuse offenders and all those who protect them accountable,” they said in a statement.

Andronici said those young men expressed “a great deal of relief” after they were told of the verdict.

One told her, “It’s been a long time coming,” she said, and the other told her, “Thank God he’s in jail.”

Victim No. 5, a 23-year-old man, was “gratified” by the verdict, said his attorney, Tom Kline.

Clinton County Children and Youth Services caseworker Jessica Dershem was happy about the verdict. Her 2009 report of Sandusky touching Victim 1 started the criminal investigation.

“It makes me feel good that I had a part of this, but I look to the victims,” Dershem said when reached Friday night by phone. “They’re the ones who did this. They’re the ones who had the courage to come forward and talk about this.”

Amendola said he and Sandusky were not surprised by the verdict, and Sandusky was prepared for the possibility of going to jail.

“We fought our butts off,” Amendola said, “but realistically we knew as I said many, many times, this was like climbing Mount Everest from the bottom, and obviously we didn’t make it.”

Sandusky will be in an isolation cell for his protection while he’s in county prison.

“We have taken every precaution to make sure Mr. Sandusky’s stay with the county is safe and secure,” said county Board of Commissioners Chairman Steve Dershem.

The fallout is likely to continue to unfold with expected civil suits and other ongoing investigations.

Amendola said there are a “number of issues” that can be a basis for appeal, including the judge’s decisions to deny requests for more time. He said the hearsay testimony of the Penn State janitor is another issue for appeal.

The prosecution portrayed Sandusky as having led a double life — a football coach who used his stature in the community to target young boys from The Second Mile, earn their trust and fondle and sexually abuse them.

Sandusky faced 48 counts of abuse of 10 victims, including involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, indecent assault, endangering the welfare of children and corruption of minors.

While the jury was deliberating Friday, Amendola seemed resigned that Sandusky would be convicted. Amendola said, “I’ll probably die of a heart attack” if Sandusky is acquitted of everything.

Amendola said Sandusky, a churchgoer, spent his last days as a free man with his family and “doing a lot of praying.”

What began in Clinton County in 2009 as a report of fondling and morphed into a full-fledged investigation two years later exploded in November: Sandusky was charged with 40 counts of sexually abusing children, and suspicion that earlier reports were covered up to spare the university ugly embarrassment arose when two Penn State administrators were charged with lying to the grand jury investigating Sandusky and failing to a tell authorities about an incident seen by Mike McQueary, a graduate assistant at the time.

Interest in the case, which already had grabbed national headlines because of former coach Joe Paterno’s involvement, heightened when Paterno was fired live on national television during a late-night press conference by the university’s board of trustees. In the same breath, the university president, Graham Spanier, was fired, too.

The university’s alumni were outraged that Paterno’s legendary career had ended with his humiliation. And outraged Penn State students rioted in downtown State College.

Jack Raykovitz, the CEO of The Second Mile, resigned and hasn’t made any public comments since.
Earlier on Friday during deliberations, the jury had made requests about the charges that pertain to Sandusky abusing boys who haven’t been identified.

The jury wanted to listen to the testimony given by prosecution witness McQueary and defense witness Jonathan Dranov, a local doctor and McQueary family friend. McQueary testified about walking in on Sandusky in a “sexual situation” with a young boy and thought from their positioning they were having intercourse.

Dranov testified that McQueary was flustered about what he saw but didn’t use graphic language in his description of it. Dranov said McQueary kept coming back to “sexual sounds” he heard.

The jury also wanted clarification about deciding five counts related to victim No. 8, an unidentified boy whom prosecutors alleged Sandusky abused in a Penn State shower in November 2000.

The judge said a hearsay statement made by a janitor who saw it to another couldn’t sustain a conviction but circumstantial or other direct evidence could. The janitor who was told about the incident did testify, saying he saw Sandusky in the shower before and after the incident.

When the case got to trial two weeks ago, the prosecutors’ case was obvious: Show that Sandusky liked to be around young boys, bookend their case with powerful testimonies, and show a pattern of abuse that started as touching a knee in a car ride and escalated to touching their genitals to sexual contact.

The eight men, ages 18 to 28, testified that Sandusky inappropriately touched them and forced them into sexual acts. On the witness stand, an 18-year-old from Clinton County sobbed as he recounted the first time Sandusky performed oral sex on him. A 25-year-old man testified that he was enraged by the abuse after having thought of Sandusky as the father he never had.

Sandusky, who’s renowned as a defensive mind and credited as the person who developed Penn State into Linebacker U, couldn’t pull off a defensive plan to counter the prosecution’s case.

Defense attorneys called mostly character witnesses who testified that Sandusky had a sterling reputation as a do-gooder who started The Second Mile, a charity for at-risk children. The defense wanted to humanize Sandusky, so they called his wife, who told how he led a busy life as a football coach, a father, grandfather, charity fundraiser and mentor to young children.

She said she never saw anything inappropriate happen between her husband and young boys, and she testified that she knew most of those who had come forward to testify against her husband.

The defense tried to chip away at inconsistencies in prosecution witnesses’ testimony.

But it wasn’t enough.

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