Sandusky given 30 to 60 years in prison at resentencing
Court hearing was necessary due to change in mandatory sentence laws
BELLEFONTE — The trauma and raw emotions associated with the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse case were as intense as ever Friday afternoon when the former Penn State assistant football coach for a second time was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison.
Sandusky — facing resentencing on 45 charges stemming from his sexual abuse of 10 young boys between 1995 and 2008 — appeared in a Centre County courtroom for the hearing that was ordered in February by the Pennsylvania Superior Court.
He thanked Warren County President Judge Maureen A. Skerda, appointed by the Supreme Court to preside over the hearing, for having the opportunity to speak, but then said, “I am unable to admit remorse for something I didn’t do.”
Sandusky, 75, said he initially wasn’t going to exercise his right to speak during the hearing, but he decided to do so after talking to a young woman who he knew from the past.
She had been abused as a young person and was part of his The Second Mile charity for high-risk youth.
The young mother happened to be visiting his wife, Dottie, when he called his wife this past week, and she related how her experience with the Second Mile turned her life around.
At the end of the conversation, she told Sandusky she loved him.
Choking up twice, Sandusky related nobody could take those good memories away from him.
Skerda replied that a jury of his peers had found Sandusky guilty of multiple sexual abuse charges, leaving those youngsters with “a legacy of trauma that is relived with every (court) proceeding.”
She stated in her review of the case that Sandusky had a career as a coach and that he had created an environment of loyalty and trust among young people, but Sandusky also had another side that resulted in his conviction for multiple crimes, including involuntary deviate sexual intercourse.
“I want the victims to understand that what happened to them is not their fault,” Skerda said to Sandusky.
She then went on to impose the same 30- to 60-year sentence that Sandusky received in October 2012 when he was before Judge John Cleland of McKean County, who presided over his three-week trial.
While Sandusky’s attorney, Alexander H. Lindsay of Butler, pleaded with the judge for a lesser sentence, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Buck pointed to Sandusky’s spotty prison record, stating his life behind bars has had “a common theme of blaming others and not accepting responsibility for his actions.”
Lindsay told the judge that in his 40 years of dealing with criminal cases, Friday’s sentencing hearing was the most important he has had.
He presented letters from five people, who referred to Sandusky as a good neighbor, a religious man who never used alcohol or drugs and a man who led an exemplary life.
He stated a 30- to 60-year sentence for Sandusky represents a life sentence.
The prosecution presented its own letters.
The victims did not appear Friday to testify against Sandusky, desiring to avoid additional trauma, Buck said.
The victim statements were read into the record.
The victims were known throughout the trial by numbers 1 through 10.
Victim 1 wrote that when he was a child, Sandusky had promised to be my friend.
Instead, he wrote, Sandusky “humiliated me beyond description.”
He called Sandusky the worst kind of pedophile, stating he was a man who “wanted to manipulate and abuse all of his victims.”
The mother of Victim 9 wrote she never realized Sandusky was sexually abusing her son, actions which she stated, “Forever changed his life for the worse.”
“You have destroyed my family. I cannot forgive that,” she wrote.
Victim 6 related how Sandusky called himself the “Tickle Monster.”
He never realized until he grew older, that Sandusky’s touching was in fact sexual abuse.
He asked Sandusky to please admit what he did “and ask God to forgive you.”
Victim 5, in his letter to the court stated his life has been a difficult road because of Sandusky’s abuse. He said he suffers from anxiety, post-traumatic stress, depression and feelings of guilt.
“The sentence of Jerry Sandusky will never erase what he did,” wrote Victim 5.
Victim 4 wrote, “I don’t know if I will ever forgive you.”
After the hearing, Dick Anderson, who, like Sandusky, is a former Penn State coach and a person who knew Sandusky for many years, said in frustration, “Nothing has changed.”
He still believes in Sandusky’s innocence, stating, “Personally, I feel he shouldn’t even be here.”
As the courthouse cleared following the two-hour hearing, Pennsylvania Victim Advocate Jennifer Storm said the victims did not appear because it was “too disturbing.”
Storm said to hear Sandusky continue to claim his innocence “is just insulting to those victims.”
She said the Sandusky case opened the door for young men to come forward and seek help.
The next step for the defense could be a new appeal to the Superior Court or a challenge of Sandusky’s conviction in federal court.
Lindsay said he believes Sandusky eventually will receive a new trial.