As many as six of the young men who are Jerry Sandusky abuse victims could speak at his sentencing hearing this morning, a prosecutor said Monday.
Sandusky’s defense attorney also made strong indications Monday that the former Penn State defensive coordinator will take the opportunity to address the court and say he is innocent.
The sentencing hearing starts at 9 a.m. in the main courtroom of the Centre County Courthouse. The 68-year-old Sandusky, who was convicted of 45 counts of abuse, is facing life in prison because of the number of offenses.
For a community rocked by the fallout of the scandal, which took down the university president and head football coach, the sentencing is akin to the last chapter of a horror book.
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The hearing will consist of two parts. The first will be a hearing on whether to declare Sandusky a sexually violent predator. That deals with requiring Sandusky to register as a sex offender if he were to be released from prison.
The actual sentencing, with arguments from the attorneys on how long they think the punishments should be and the chance to hear from the victims, will follow.
The attorneys in the case met with Senior Judge John Cleland on Monday afternoon to hash out logistics.
Lead prosecutor Joseph E. McGettigan told reporters the number of victims to speak today “could be as many as half a dozen.” He said their whether they go through with it depends on “how they feel and how they respond to the moment.”
Defense attorney Joe Amendola expects his client to continue to maintain that he did not commit the abuse of which a jury of seven women and five men convicted him in June.
“What I anticipate he’ll say is that he’s innocent,” Amendola said to a group of reporters on his way into the courthouse for the meeting. “He doesn’t feel that we had nearly enough time to properly and adequately prepare his defense, and that’s a constitutional issue.”
Amendola has long said he did not have enough time to prepare for trial, which went to trial a little more than seven months after the indictment. Recently released transcripts of the trial revealed the defense attorneys wanted off the case before jury selection started and that was one of the prime reasons, but the judge did not oblige.
Members of the Sandusky family, such as his wife, Dottie, and their children minus Matt Sandusky, have provided the judge with letters on his behalf, Amendola said. During the trial, Matt Sandusky went to prosecutors and alleged he was abused by his adoptive father. That revelation kept the former defensive coach from testifying on his own behalf at trial.
The defense attorneys have said that will be an issue in their appeals.
Former Second Mile participants also provided letters to the judge, Amendola said. Sandusky founded the charity in 1977, and that is how prosecutors said Sandusky met the boys he was convicted of abusing.
Sandusky has spent his time awaiting sentencing in isolation in the Centre County Correctional Facility. Amendola said Sandusky has asked to be allowed into the general population of the jail to no avail.
If the judge declares Sandusky a sexually violent predator, he would have to register with state police as a lifetime sex offender according to Pennsylvania’s version of Megan’s Law.
McGettigan did not think the defense would contest the sexually violent predator status during the hearing.
Mike Dawson can be reached at 231-4616. Follow him on Twitter at MikeDawsonCDT.