Jerry Sandusky sentenced 30 to 60 years in prison

JOHN KRYK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:27 PM ET

Jerry Sandusky now has the rest of his life to try to convince his prison-cell walls of his innocence.

A judge in Bethlehem, Pa., on Tuesday morning sentenced the convicted child-sex abuser -- and former Penn State University assistant football coach -- to 30 to 60 years in prison.

Judge John Cleland told the 68-year-old Sandusky that the sentence has the "unmistakable effect of saying you will spend the rest of your life in prison," according to tweets from reporters on hand for the sentencing.

"It is (your) remarkable ability to deceive that makes these crimes so hideous," Cleland told Sandusky.

In June, a 12-person jury found Sandusky guilty of 45 of 48 sex-abuse charges. Eight of his 10 alleged victims had achingly testified, in overwhelmingly upsetting testimony, how when they were boys Sandusky eventually forced them to secretly submit to sex acts -- oral, anal or otherwise.

Several of the victims were present for the sentencing, and Cleland told them they should not be ashamed. Rather, that people will remember them for their courage, reports said.

Sandusky's defence team told reporters afterward that an appeal will be filed soon, and that there never was a possibility of a plea deal because Sandusky has steadfastly maintained his innocence throughout.

Heart-wrenching statements from five of Sandusky's victims were read in court before the sentencing.

According to reporter Sarah Ganim, who won a Pulitzer Prize for breaking the Sandusky story last year and for leading coverage of it thereafter, three victims read their own statements in court. A mother of another victim read her son's statement, while a fifth victim's letter was read by the court.

The victims' identities have not been revealed.

The mother of Victim 9, according to Ganim, told the court she still blames herself for Sandusky's "sick indulgences," and that her son subsequently tried to take his own life on two occasions.

"To watch my sweet little boy turn into this person is too much to bear," the mother said to Sandusky. "Not only did you molest him, you caused him a lifetime of suffering and sorry. How cruel are you?

"Whatever comes to you, I hope it is 10-fold of what you have done to my son and others."

Victim 4, whom Sandusky abused over many years in the 1990s, read his statement last, Ganim reported. He called Sandusky his surrogate father who abused and used him.

"You had the chance to plead guilty and spare us," Victim 4 told Sandusky. "Instead you decided to try to attack us. We both know exactly what happened.

"I want you to know that I don't forgive you and I don't know that I will ever forgive you. I grew up in a bad situation and you made things worse."

Victim 1, Ganim reported, is now 18 and told the court words cannot describe his anguish.

"I've been looking over my shoulder for a long time," he said.

Of Sandusky, Victim 1 said, "He smiled and smirked his way through the legal proceedings. Through the end he wanted to manipulate the system and the victims. There is no remorse, only evil."

Victim 5 said this of Sandusky, Ganim reported:

"The sentence will never erase images of his naked body, his hands on my hip. It is real and it is painful and it will be inside me forever ... But he must pay for his crimes, which he has now been properly convicted of."

Sandusky had faced up to 400 years in prison. Anything above Cleland's sentence -- a minimum of 30 years, to a maximum of 60 years -- would have been superfluous. Now approaching age 70, Sandusky surely will die in prison.

Tweeted reports moments after the judge handed down his sentence said Sandusky would remain at the Centre County jail for 10 days, before being transferred to Camp Hill Prison.

Dressed in a red prison jumpsuit, bound in handcuffs and clutching a letter-sized manila envelope, Sandusky was walked by police just before 9 a.m. EDT from a cruiser into the Centre County Courthouse in Bethlehem, a suburb of State College, Pa.

His wife, Dottie, had preceded him.

Before the judge passed his sentence, Sandusky himself delivered a speech in court. State prosecutor Joe McGettigan told reporters later that Sandusky's statement was "ridiculous" and "delusional."

On the eve of his sentencing, Sandusky inexplicably released a shocking eight-minute audio statement, recorded from prison.

In it he denied everything. He took shots at his accusers and their families, at the media, at Penn State University and others -- basically alleging they all conspired to fabricate the charges and ruin his life.

Sandusky also complained in the audio statement about what he and his lawyers have called an unfair rush to trial, and Sandusky implied he would appeal on that basis.

"They could take away my life, they could make me out as a monster, they could treat me as a monster," Sandusky said, "but they can't take away my heart."

An assistant football coach at Penn State under once iconic head coach Joe Paterno for 32 years until 1999, Sandusky released the recording to PSU ComRadio, a student-run, web-based radio station at the university.

In responding to what he termed "the worst loss of my life," Sandusky completely denied all child sex-abuse charges.

"In my heart, I know I did not do these alleged disgusting acts," Sandusky said. "My wife has been my only sex partner that was after marriage. Our love continues."

Legal experts were incredulous that Sandusky in essence poked his trial judge in the eye the night before being sentenced by that very man.

"It defies belief that he would do this, but he did," CNN legal expert Paul Callan said. "When I first heard it I thought this must be a prank by college students ... but it was genuine.

"He paints himself as a victim ... It's not very persuasive, and I don't think it's a good strategy."

Until Sandusky was arrested last November, he had long since won over the hearts of locals in remote, mountainous Central Pennsylvania -- not only for churning out great Nittany Lion defences and standout defensive players alike (especially linebackers), but for his tireless volunteer work on behalf of troubled local youths with the charity he had founded in 1977, The Second Mile.

Sandusky retired in 1999, it was announced, so he could devote more time to The Second Mile.

At last June's trial, prosecutors charged that Sandusky used the charity as a means of recruiting and subtly prepping such psychologically weak, vulnerable boys for his eventual sexual advances.

A few weeks after Sandusky's trial concluded, an independent probe headed by a former FBI investigator concluded in its now famous Freeh Report that Paterno and Penn State leaders knew all about a 1998 incident on campus, in which Sandusky was spotted by a janitor sexually abusing a boy in the football team's locker room.

Among the report's sources were smoking-gun e-mails that investigators uncovered.

Paterno as well as three school leaders at the time -- the university president, a vice-president and athletic director -- all denied any knowledge of the incident to a grand jury early last year.

For the next 13 years following the 1998 incident, however, the report concluded that "JoePa" kept a lid tight on that embarrassing information -- as well as on a 2001 incident, in which an assistant Nittany Lions football coach discovered the then-recently retired Sandusky abusing a different boy in the team's showers.

The Freeh Report essentially concluded that Paterno -- the most powerful man on that campus -- convinced his superiors that the "humane" thing to do was to do absolutely nothing, both times. Police thus were never informed of the incidents, and Sandusky was allowed to continue his predatory sexual attacks on local boys for years.

Sandusky even retained privileges on campus up to and including last fall, when he would watch football games as a guest of the school.

Paterno -- who had long been revered as one of the most honest, principled men in college athletics -- was fired by the university's board of trustees last November, just days after the scandal broke. He died two months later of lung cancer.

Two weeks after the Freeh Report's release in July, the governing body of college athletics in the U.S., the NCAA, obliterated the Penn State football program, as punishment for the "horrifically egregious" actions of Paterno and other school leaders in the scandal.

While the NCAA stopped short of slapping Penn State with the so-called "death penalty" -- a short-term suspension of the football team, previously applied only to Southern Methodist in 1987 -- the punishments handed down were no less severe in terms of long-term effects.

Penalties included a post-season ban for four years, a severe reduction in new football-player scholarships in the years ahead, allowing current players to transfer without having to sit out a year, and forcing the school to vacate all victories from 1998 through 2011.

The latter punishment meant the iconic Paterno posthumously lost the distinction of being the winningest coach in college football history.

Even though several star Nittany Lions indeed transferred over the summer, including dazzling running back Silas Redd to Southern Cal, this season Penn State so far is 4-2, and 2-0 in the Big Ten conference.

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