Jerry Sandusky was sentenced to 30-60 years in prison earlier this morning for abusing 10 boys over 15 years. But much went on during the sentencing hearing, including multiple statements from the victims, lawyers, and Sandusky himself. And then, finally, the sentence and Judge John Cleland’s reasoning.
But before we get to Sandusky’s words, here’s what some of what the victims who spoke had to say:
From Victim No. 9’s mother:
“‘For four years, I believed you were helping my son but instead you were molesting him. He was losing weight, couldn’t sleep. I blame myself and still do,” the mother of Victim 9 wrote in a statement. ‘I have had to endure two attempts from my son on his own life, all because of you and what you did to my son.'”
How cruel are you?
‘Whatever comes to you I hope it is 10-fold of what you have done to my son and others.'”
From Victim No. 4:
“‘You had the chance to plead guilty and spare us,’ he said. ‘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.
My only regret is that I didn’t come forward sooner.
I had no clue that it was hapenning to others. While I don’t forgive you, I ask others who were abused to forgive me for not coming forward sooner.'”
From the now 18-year-old Victim No. 1:
“‘I wish I could relax like it was before I ever met Jerry Sandusky,’ the statement read.
‘I’ve been looking over my shoulder for a long time.’
He suffers from mental health issues and anguish that words cannot describe, he said.
And he attacked Sandusky for his demeanor though the case.
‘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.'”
From Victim No. 5:
“‘Jerry Sandusky lured me into a Penn State sauna and then a shower and then forcibly had me touch him,” said the man identified as Victim 5. “I am troubled with flashbacks of his naked body. I continue to be haunted by the incident. (I have) anxiety, PTSD, nightmares, and embarrassment and guilt.'”
According to ESPN, Sandusky, who entered the court in his red prison jumpsuit, looked rather pale and had clearly lost weight, and was stone-faced as the victims spoke to the court. When it came time for Sandusky to speak, he continued to maintain his innocence and emotionally recounted his time in prison and the painful separation from his family. Sandusky’s statement to the court, which lasted almost 10 minutes and was considered long and rambling, never addressed the victims.
“‘A chill goes up my spine and my eyes fill up again. It doesn’t matter what you look at, it’s what you see. When I look at those walls again, I see light, visits from family and friends,” he said on the stand, clad in a red jumpsuit and looking noticeably thinner and more gaunt than during his trial. I see me throwing hundreds of kids in the air, water balloon battles, a dog licking children’s faces.”
Sandusky said in his statement that he has spent his time in jail meditating, writing, exercising, and reading books about persecution and struggle. He said he has faced ‘outbursts by troubled inmates’ and ‘special inmates who have smiled at me.’
‘Somehow, some way, something good will come out of this. These are people I cared about, still do. I used to think of ways to praise them, to help them have fun.’
‘To my loved ones I want to say, the most difficult part is the pain of separation. Some of the labeling hurts but they don’t compare to the pain of their absence,’ he said.”
And finally, Judge John Cleland, after hearing all the testimony, handed down his sentence:
“I’m not going to sentence you to centuries in prison, although the law would
permit that. It’s too abstract, only a big number.
“You are sentenced to spend not less than 30 and not more than 60 years in prison;
that has the unmistakeable impact of saying the rest of your life.
“I think it cannot be disputed that you have done much positive work, tragedy that all the qualities that made you successful continue to conceal the vices that brought you down. Continuing to conceal those vices from yourself and everybody else, in my view, makes you dangerous.
“The crime is not only what you did to their bodies, but the assault to their psyches and souls and the assault to the well-being of the larger community in which we all live.”
So what now for Sandusky? It’s unknown where he will spend those 30-60 years, but it was determined that Sandusky will be classified as a “sexually violent predator, which is Pennsylvania’s version of Megan’s Law. In 10 days time, he will be transferred from Centre County jail to a state facility in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, and at that time he will be evaluated both mentally and physically. The prison facility that will house him will be chosen then as well.
The internet reacted with vicious frustration to Sandusky’s sentence, believing that leaving the possibility of parole at age 98, when Sandusky could, in theory, still be alive, is both unwarranted and unfairly lenient. But according to Yahoo’s Dan Wetzel, Sandusky’s lawyer Joe Amendola doesn’t believe that will happen.
Sandusky atty said based on parole precedent even “if Jerry did survive the 30 years, he wouldn’t be released.”
— Dan Wetzel (@DanWetzel) October 9, 2012
So it appears that Sandusky truly will spend the rest of his days behind bars.