Though Sandusky has maintained his innocence and argued publicly that he was targeted by a “veteran accuser” who conspired against him, Judge John M. Cleland on Tuesday ordered the former Penn State University coach — and now notorious child molester — 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, 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 bodies, but your assault to their psyches and souls.”
Sandusky’s methods of luring victims have been detailed in grand jury reports and trial testimony, horrifying and stunning the residents of Happy Valley and toppling the storied Penn State football program he helped build. Some of Penn State’s most powerful leaders, including the late legendary football coach Joe Paterno, have been accused of knowing about the abuse and not taking enough action to stop it.
But Sandusky’s methods, it turned out, were a textbook example of how abusers operate. Sandusky met his young victims through a mentoring program he started for at-risk children, Second Mile. He slowly built their trust and earned their admiration by showering them with attention and gifts, involving them in Penn State’s revered football culture and being the father figure they lacked. He also became skilled at deflecting accusations of impropriety.
Eight victims testified against Sandusky at his trial. Two other victims have never been identified, but jurors heard from those who witnessed or heard about their abuse. On June 22, a local jury found Sandusky guilty of 45 of the 48 charges against him, which included several counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse spanning more than a decade.
“He promised to be my friend and mentor,” one victim wrote in a statement that lead prosecutor Joseph E. McGettigan III read aloud in court. “Jerry Sandusky humiliated me beyond description.”
Three victims pleaded with the judge Tuesday morning to give Sandusky a sentence that matched their anguish and hurt. The Washington Post generally does not identify victims of sex crimes.
A young man known in court records as “Victim 4” stared at Sandusky as he said: “I don’t forgive you, and I don’t know if I ever will forgive you. I grew up in a bad situation, and you only made it worse.”