Jerry Sandusky Gets 30 to 60 Years for Sex Abuse After Tearful Victim Statements

Jerry Sandusky was convicted of 45 counts of child sex abuse.

ByABC News
October 8, 2012, 5:06 PM

BELLEFONTE, Pa., Oct. 9, 2012— -- A Pennsylvania judge sentenced an unremorseful former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky to 30-60 years in prison today for the sexual abuse of 10 boys after tearful testimony from his victims.

"I'm not going to sentence you to centuries," Judge John Cleland said at the sentencing hearing. "It makes no sense for a 68-year-old man. This sentence will put you in prison for the rest of your life."

Sandusky, 68, would be 98 at his earliest possible release date. Cleland also determined that Sandusky would be classified as a sexually violent predator, mandating that he register as a sex offender if he is ever released from prison.

"The ultimate tragedy of this situation is that... you have continued to conceal the very vices that have led to your downfall," Cleland said before handing down the sentence. "In my view that makes you dangerous. You abused the trust of those who trusted you. These are not crimes against strangers, they are much worse.

"The crime is not only what you did to their bodies, but your assault to the safety and well-being of the community in which we all live."

Sandusky will now undergo extensive evaluations, including his medical and mental health needs, health care, security level, and program needs, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.

Sandusky's security will likely be an issue as authorities decide where to place him in the state prison population, as his case could make him a target for other inmates.

There are 26 prisons for men in Pennsylvania that Sandusky could be sent to, none of which have a special housing unit or facility for sex offenders, the department said. The system houses more than 50,000 prisoners.

ABC News legal analyst Dan Abrams said the sentence was appropriate because it amounts to life in prison.

"The theoretical 400 hundred-plus years in prison likely wouldn't have been imposed even if he was 28 instead of 68. The bottom line is he will be serving the rest of his life in prison. The rest of the numbers are basically irrelevant," Abrams said.

The sentence was handed down by the judge after tearful testimony from both Sandusky and his victims.

Sandusky's victims recounted the horror inflicted on them by the former Penn State football defensive coordinator, including one victim's mother who said her son had twice attempted suicide because of the abuse.

Sandusky spoke at the sentencing, denying that he ever engaged in "disgusting acts" and remembering instead fun water balloon fights and throwing kids in the air in pools.

"Jerry Sandusky lured me into a Penn State sauna and then a shower and then forcibly had me touch him," said the man identified as Victim 5. "I am troubled with flashbacks of his naked body. I continue to be haunted by the incident. (I have) anxiety, PTSD, nightmares, and embarrassment and guilt."

"For four years, I believed you were helping my son but instead you were molesting him. He was losing weight, couldn't sleep. I blame myself and still do," the mother of Victim 9 wrote in a statement. "I have had to endure two attempts from my son on his own life, all because of you and what you did to my son."

The statements came shortly ahead of Sandusky's own tearful statement to the court, in which he described his time in jail, staring at cement walls, imagining the fun times he spent with the children of his charity, The Second Mile, through which he met his victims.

"A chill goes up my spine and my eyes fill up again. It doesn't matter what you look at, it's what you see. When I look at those walls again, I see light, visits from family and friends," he said on the stand, clad in a red jumpsuit and looking noticeably thinner and more gaunt than during his trial. I see me throwing hundreds of kids in the air, water balloon battles, a dog licking children's faces."

Sandusky said in his statement that he has spent his time in jail meditating, writing, exercising, and reading books about persecution and struggle. He said he has faced "outbursts by troubled inmates" and "special inmates who have smiled at me."

"Somehow, some way, something good will come out of this. These are people I cared about, still do. I used to think of ways to praise them, to help them have fun."

"To my loved ones I want to say, the most difficult part is the pain of separation. Some of the labeling hurts but they don't compare to the pain of their absence," he said.

Prosecutor Joseph McGettigan said after court that Sandusky's statement was "ludicrous."

"In fact his statement today was a masterpiece of banal self-delusion completely untethered from reality," he said. "It was entirely self-focused, it was, in short, ridiculous."

Sandusky's victims said they were outraged at Sandusky's continued claims of innocence.