Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky’s convictions on 45 child sex abuse counts will send him to prison for the rest of his life.
Jurors announced the verdict Friday night after weighing 48 charges accusing him of abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period.
At one time Sandusky led a nonprofit called the Second Mile that was supposed to help at-risk youths. When the trial was over, he stood, turned and waved to his family, and was escorted out of the courtroom in handcuffs.
Defense attorney Joe Amendola says Sandusky is disappointed by the verdict and that they are planning to appeal. Many of the charges carry mandatory minimum sentences that will keep the 68-year-old Sandusky behind bars for decades. Amendola calls it a “life sentence.”
Amendola took questions outside the courtroom, where a crowd erupted into cheers the moment news came down of a guilty verdict.
Meanwhile, Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly thanked the accusers who testified, calling them “brave men.”
She says the trial was forced on them and that she hopes the verdict “helps these victims heal … and helps other victims of abuse to come forward.”
Kelly says the goal of the A-G’s office has always been to receive a fair and just verdict in the Sandusky case. “That goal has been accomplished with the jury’s verdict today. And we believe that justice has been served.”
What’s next for Sandusky?
It’s likely that Judge John Cleland would order a pre-sentencing report, which would take anywhere from one to two months to complete.
During that time, he would be examined by the state Sexual Offenders Assessment Board to decide if he should be treated as a sexually violent predator, and prosecutors could ask the judge for a hearing.
The judge determines whether someone is a sexually violent predator — it carries stiffer reporting and treatment requirements once someone is out of prison — and can use information from the board’s investigation in a sentencing decision.
If Sandusky is sentenced to state prison — which appears to be certain in this case — then Sandusky will be transferred to Camp Hill, in central Pennsylvania, which has 3,000 to 4,000 inmates, about 1,000 of whom are held temporarily for classification.
New inmates are put through a battery of medical, dental, psychiatric, psychological, vocational and educational testing, according to Department of Corrections spokeswoman Sue Bensinger, who spoke generally about a male inmate convicted in Centre County and not of Sandusky’s case in particular.
He would then be placed in a state prison based on his treatment plan and the available beds. Sex offenders must undergo mandatory treatment programs, she said. A judge can request placement near an inmate’s home, but the department is not compelled to honor those requests, she said.
Age is not a factor in the placement of Sandusky, 68, but any medical conditions could be. Inmates from 18 to 79 are housed in general populations, although older inmates may be put in lower bunks and have other handicap accommodations, she said. The majority of state facilities have infirmaries.
Sandusky could still face a flurry of potential civil lawsuits from his accusers.
When Kelly announced charges against Sandusky last November, and details of Penn State’s handling of the situation become public, the scandal swiftly led to the firing of legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno. Some university trustees felt the coach had been slow and passive in responding to reports that Sandusky was behaving inappropriately with male youths.
The scandal also led to Graham Spanier’s resignation under pressure as president of the university.
Paterno’s ouster in turn led to an explosion of outrage among Nittany Lion football faithful.
Paterno died in January of this year.
A federal investigation into Penn State’s handling of the Sandusky situation continues, as does an internal university investigation.
*Updated at 7 a.m. on Saturday, June 23