BELLEFONTE, Pa. (AP)–Jerry Sandusky was convicted Friday of sexually assaulting 10 boys over 15 years, accusations that had sent shock waves through the college campus known as Happy Valley and led to the firing of Penn State’s beloved Hall of Fame coach, Joe Paterno.
Sandusky, a 68-year-old retired defensive coach who was once Paterno’s heir apparent, was found guilty of 45 of 48 counts. He faces life in prison at sentencing, which is weeks away.
Sandusky showed little emotion as the verdict was read. The judge revoked Sandusky’s bail and ordered him jailed to await sentencing in about three months. In court, Sandusky half-waved toward family as the sheriff led him away. Outside, he calmly walked to a sheriff’s car with his hands cuffed in front of him.
The accuser known in court papers as Victim 6 broke down in tears upon hearing the verdicts in the courtroom. Afterward, a prosecutor embraced him and said, “Did I ever lie to you?”
The man, now 25, testified that Sandusky called himself the “tickle monster” in a shower assault. He declined to comment to a reporter afterward.
His mother said: “Nobody wins. We’ve all lost.”
Almost immediately after the judge adjourned, loud cheers could be heard from a couple hundred people gathered outside the courthouse as word quickly spread that Sandusky had been convicted. The crowd included victim advocates and local residents with their kids. Many held up their smartphones to take pictures as people filtered out of the building.
As Sandusky was placed in the cruiser to be taken to jail, someone yelled at him to “rot in hell.” Others hurled insults and he shook his head no in response.
Defense attorney Joe Amendola was interrupted by cheers from the crowd on courthouse steps when he said, “The sentence that Jerry will receive will be a life sentence.”
Sandusky did not testify. The defense case had consisted largely of character witnesses who defended Sandusky’s reputation, a psychologist who said Sandusky had a personality disorder and the ex-coach’s wife, who said her husband didn’t do anything inappropriate. His lawyers also suggested the accusers had a financial motive to make up stories and that investigators coached witnesses.
Eight young men testified in a central Pennsylvania courtroom about a range of abuse from Sandusky, from kissing and massages to groping, oral sex and anal rape.
Earlier Friday evening, Sandusky’s lawyer said he would be shocked and “die of a heart attack” if the former Penn State assistant football coach were acquitted on all counts in his child sex abuse trial.
The candid remarks by Joe Amendola lasted about 15 minutes inside the courtroom and opened a wide window into Sandusky’s state of mind as he and his wife, Dottie, waited for a verdict.
Jurors began deliberating the case Thursday and talked all day Friday.
Amendola said the Sanduskys were spending a lot of time praying. He described the atmosphere at their home as like a funeral.
The couple was “crushed” Thursday when lawyers for one of their sons, Matt Sandusky, said the 33-year-old had been prepared to testify on behalf of prosecutors, Amendola said. Matt Sandusky said his father abused him, his attorneys said.
Amendola said he wasn’t surprised by another man, Travis Weaver, who claimed during an NBC interview Thursday that he was abused by Sandusky more than 100 times in the early 1990s, or by any others who might come forward.
“Money does a lot of bad things to people,” he said.
As for Sandusky and his family, Amendola said he has given them an objective appraisal of what they could expect.
“I’ve used the best example I could use: climbing Mount Everest from the bottom of the mountain,” he said. “It’s a daunting, daunting case.”
He also said that Sandusky had his wife talk to a criminal defense lawyer a couple months ago “just to be careful.”
Amendola’s interview ended when he was summoned into the chambers of Judge John Cleland, who presided over the two-week trial. Cleland has issued a gag order barring lawyers from discussing the case.
The verdict will impact not only Sandusky and the eight young men who accused him of molestation, but a range of civil and criminal probes of the scandal that shamed the university and brought down coach Joe Paterno.
The jury’s apparent focus on the charges involving an unknown boy called Victim 2 in court papers renewed attention on the separate criminal case against two former school officials.
Tim Curley, who temporarily stepped down as athletic director, and now-retired vice president Gary Schultz are charged with lying to a grand jury about what they knew of the 2001 assault that then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary said he witnessed.
Jurors took copious notes and appeared to pay close attention Friday as McQueary’s two-hour testimony was read back to them. McQueary, who said he walked in on the assault, testified that he did not see penetration, but he did see a boy pressed up against a wall in the football team shower with Sandusky behind him.
Jurors also reheard the testimony of a McQueary family friend, Dr. Jonathan Dranov, who said that McQueary told him a different version of the story that didn’t include sexual contact.
McQueary, however, also testified that he hadn’t told Dranov everything that he saw.
The jury also sought details from the judge on charges connected to a boy known in court records as Victim 8. Cleland told the jurors in a brief courtroom meeting that they must be satisfied that there is other evidence that abuse occurred, not just statements from a janitor who relayed a co-worker’s account.
On Friday, a judge in Harrisburg scheduled a July 11 status conference with lawyers for Curley and Schultz, who are also charged with failing to properly report suspected child abuse to authorities. They are fighting the charges and await trial.
Philadelphia attorney Fortunato Perri Jr., who has been following the Sandusky trial, said an acquittal of Sandusky on the counts involving Victim 2 could provide a road map for the defense of Curley and Schultz.
“You’ve now had a jury kind of preview your case with respect to the credibility of McQueary,” Perri said. “Who knows if the next jury would believe him or not believe him? But you’ve got to feel pretty good if you’re representing those two guys, and a jury has taken a good long look at McQueary’s testimony and decided something didn’t smell right about it.”
Bruce Antkowiak, a former federal prosecutor and defense attorney who now teaches law at St. Vincent College near Latrobe, said the Sandusky jury’s verdict on the charges involving Victim 2 is legally irrelevant to Curley and Schultz.
That’s because, Antkowiak said, they are charged with violating a legal duty to properly report the allegation that Sandusky abused the boy — regardless of whether it was later proven.
“The underlying truth of what was going on in that shower doesn’t affect their underlying obligation to report the initial allegation,” Antkowiak said.
Defense lawyers for Curley and Schultz did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.
Sandusky has repeatedly denied the allegations against him. The defense portrayed him as the hapless victim of a conspiracy to convict him of heinous crimes. They explain the 48 charges against him as the result of an investigatory team out for blood and accusers who willingly played along in hopes of securing a big payday.
Even if he’s acquitted, Sandusky could face additional criminal charges involving accusers who came forward after his November arrest.
The attorney general’s office has said repeatedly that it has an “active and ongoing” investigation of Sandusky, while federal prosecutors in Harrisburg issued a wide-ranging subpoena in February for university computer records and other information.
Civil lawsuits also are likely against Sandusky, his Second Mile charity and Penn State.
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