Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky has been found guilty of 45 of 48 counts of child sexual abuse. The jury came to their decision after deliberating for close to 20 hours, and Judge John Cleland announced the verdict Friday night around 10 p.m. EST. Sandusky is facing a minimum of 60 years in prison and a maximum of 448 years in prison — essentially a life sentence, since he is 68 years old. Additional time may be added to this already hefty figure if he is tried on a federal level for abuse that took place outside of Pennsylvania, his home state.
Sandusky was accused of sexually abusing 10 boys over the course of more than 15 years. He met the boys through his work with The Second Mile, an organization he helped found more than 35 years ago to have a positive impact on young people throughout Pennsylvania. Sandusky developed close relationships with some of the children he knew through The Second Mile, eventually molesting boys as young as seven or eight. Eight of the 10 victims testified anonymously in court, giving explicit details of where, when and how often the assaults occurred.
On top of the testimony of victims and other parties, another damaging bombshell was dropped during the course of the trial: Sandusky’s adopted son Matt announced he was also abused by Sandusky and was prepared to testify if need be. Sandusky did not take the stand in his own defense.
What happens next
Sandusky is due to be sentenced in 90 days. Until then he is being held at Centre County Correctional Facility, where he has been put on suicide watch as a precautionary measure.
Sandusky’s attorneys have already announced they intend to appeal the ruling on the grounds that they were not given enough time to prepare an appropriate defense. Sandusky’s attorneys requested more time on numerous occasions and even submitted a petition before the trial began for a delay to give them more time to prepare, but Judge Cleland rejected this request. Lead defense attorney Joseph Amendola has said he believes he will be called as a witness to testify regarding lack of preparation time if the appeal is accepted.
Experts debating right now are unsure of whether Sandusky’s appeals would even be heard in an appellate court setting. While there may be grounds, some say that the mountain of evidence presented against him in the trial is so overwhelming that judges could choose to reject the appeal on the simple fact that it would not make a material difference in Sandusky’s sentencing. Criminal defense attorneys can tell you that this is just one of many factors examined when a choice is made regarding whether an appeal can move forward.
Pennsylvania law states that appeals cannot be processed until after a guilty party is sentenced, so the exact grounds of Sandusky’s appeal will not be known for several months.