Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky is expected to face life in prison when he is sentenced in coming days for molesting 10 boys over 15 years, a case that shocked college athletics and riveted national attention on the issue of child sexual abuse.
Sandusky, 68, faces up to 373 years in prison for his conviction in June on 45 counts of child sexual abuse, including while he was defensive coordinator for Penn State’s powerhouse football team. The sentence is to be handed down on Tuesday at Centre County Court.
Sentencing by Judge John Cleland, known for running a fast-paced court, is expected to go quickly, Karl Rominger, a Sandusky lawyer, told Reuters.
“I don’t see that the sentencing will take more than several hours at the most, but it all depends,” he said.
Asked later if Sandusky would make a statement at the hearing, Rominger texted: “Unsure but likely.” Sandusky did not testify at his trial.
Rominger and fellow defense attorney Joe Amendola have said they plan to appeal. They contend they did not have enough time to prepare for the high-profile case.
Defense attorneys and prosecutors will meet with Cleland on Monday afternoon at the courthouse in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, to coordinate the hearing.
Daniel Filler, a law professor at Philadelphia’s Drexel University, said Cleland likely would focus on two factors in sentencing – the severity of the crimes and Sandusky’s background, both good and bad.
Sandusky, who retired as Penn State’s defensive coordinator in 1999, was convicted of abusing the boys after meeting them through The Second Mile, a charity he founded for at-risk youth.
“What would normally be a defendant’s strongest argument for leniency – a lifetime of good works – may be used to justify a harsh sentence for Sandusky because he betrayed the trust of the kids he served,” Filler wrote in an email.
VICTIMS TO SPEAK
The Harrisburg Patriot-News reported last month that two of Sandusky’s victims would speak about the impact on the victims.
One is a 28-year-old man, designated as Victim 4 in court documents, who said Sandusky lavished him with gifts and trips to football bowl games while abusing him during the 1990s.
The second is Victim 5, now 23, who Sandusky molested in a Pennsylvania State University shower in 2001, the newspaper said. Attorneys for the men were not immediately available to comment.
Before sentencing, the state’s Sexual Offenders Assessment Board will report to Cleland on its evaluation of whether Sandusky is a sexually violent predator. The designation would put him under reporting requirements if he were to be released from prison on probation.
Sandusky’s abuse ranged from fondling to anal and oral sex, including the rape of a boy in a football shower in 2001.
Former Athletic Director Tim Curry and former university Vice President Gary Schultz face charges of failing to report suspected abuse and perjury in connection with the 2001 incident. Their trial is scheduled to start on January 7.
The explosive scandal led to the firing of revered head football coach Joe Paterno and university President Graham Spanier. Paterno died in January of lung cancer at age 85.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association slapped Penn State with unprecedented penalties in July. They included $60 million in fines and being stripped of all football victories for the past 14 seasons.
At least three of Sandusky’s victims are suing the university. Former assistant coach Mike McQueary, a witness to the 2001 incident who lost his job after he testified about it, also sued Penn State last week for more than $8 million.
(Reuters) – (Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Paul Thomasch and Jackie Frank)