BELLEFONTE, Pa. — Jerry Sandusky believes he is the victim of a grand conspiracy. At his sentencing hearing here Tuesday for numerous convictions of child molestation, Sandusky gave a rallying speech, the type he might have once presented during halftime of an especially tough Penn State football game.
Sandusky, speaking for more than 10 minutes, remembered the days of water balloon fights and hoisting kids up into the air, but he also reflected on his darkest hours, stuck in a small cell, locked away from his wife, children and pet dog.
“When I look at those walls, I see the light," said Sandusky, 68, who was convicted in June on 45 counts of sexually abusing 10 young boys. “I love people who won’t quit. I love ordinary people who overcome. I love underdogs."
Though Sandusky has maintained his innocence and argued publicly that he was targeted by a “veteran accuser" who conspired against him, Judge John Cleland on Tuesday ordered the former Penn State University assistant football coach to spend at least 30 years in prison.
“That has the unmistakable impact of saying, clearly, for the rest of your life," Cleland told Sandusky just after 10 a.m., in handing down a sentence that could range from 30 to 60 years. “You abused the trust of those who trusted you. ... The crime is not only what you did to their bodiees, but your assault to their psyches and souls."
Sandusky briefly looked down as the sentence was announced. After court recessed, he spoke with his attorney, smiling broadly and laughing. The former coach, dressed in a bright red jumpsuit, was then led away by officers.
The sentencing took less than 90 minutes, but it provided another step toward closure for Sandusky’s victims and for a community that has been stunned by one of the most devastating, high-profile abuse scandals to hit higher education.
“We all have a sense of relief that Jerry Sandusky is going to die in prison, that he’s not going to be able to do this again," said Matt Casey, a Philadelphia attorney whose firm represents four of the victims who testified at Sandusky’s trial in June and one of Sandusky’s adopted sons, who came forward during the trial.