Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, center, arrives for sentencing at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa., Tuesday.
BELLEFONTE, Pa. — Jerry Sandusky, a former Penn State assistant football coach, was sentenced Tuesday to 30 to 60 years in prison for sexually abusing boys, crimes that roiled the university community and shook one of major college football’s most prominent programs.
The ruling was handed down in Centre County Court by Judge John Cleland, and it essentially guaranteed that Sandusky, 68, would die in prison. The sentencing came roughly 3 1/2 months after a jury found him guilty of 45 counts of child sexual abuse.
Sandusky, the jury determined, had abused 10 boys, all of them from disadvantaged homes. Sandusky used his connections to the Penn State football program, as well as his own charity for disadvantaged youth, the Second Mile, to identify potential victims, get close to them and then sexually violate them.
In a recorded statement broadcast on a Penn State radio station Monday night, a defiant Sandusky said, “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. 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.”
Sandusky arrived at the court Tuesday dressed in a red prison outfit and looking thinner than he had at his trial. He spoke for about 15 minutes before the sentence was handed down, again denying that he had abused the boys.
Cleland said Sandusky’s ability to deceive those who trusted him and thought so highly of him was what made his acts so “heinous.”
“I’m not going to sentence you to centuries in prison, although the law will permit that,” Cleland said, although he added that he expected Sandusky to be in prison for the rest of his life.
Sandusky’s crimes have exacted a tremendous toll on Penn State. Within days of the grand jury indictment of Sandusky being made public in November, Joe Paterno, the football team’s famed head coach and a patriarchal figure at the university, was fired. He had been alerted to at least one of Sandusky’s attacks on a boy. Within months, Paterno was dead of cancer at age 85.
The university’s president, Graham B. Spanier, was also dismissed, and the Penn State community found itself confronting the idea that it had placed the interests of its football team above concern for at-risk children.
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