Gerald A. Sandusky was sentenced to a minimum of 30 years in prison this morning by Judge John Cleland in the Centre County Courthouse, with a maximum sentence of 60 years.
Wearing a red jumpsuit with “CENTRE COUNTY” emblazoned on the back, Jerry Sandusky sat there in front of the young boys he victimized. He sat there, a sad, pathetic shell of his former existence, and looked somberly, one by one, as the boys he abused told the world once again what he did to them. He closed his eyes, rocked back in forth in his chair, with the hollow gaze of a man responsible for so many tears, so much evil.
Before sentencing, Sandusky was labeled as a sexually violent predator by the court as part of Megan’s Law. The defense elected not to contest that label, and proceedings began for the sentencing.
Lead prosecutor Joseph E. McGettigan III began with a written statement. “I realize that no words I could utter could speak to the eloquence of the victim’s testimony,” said McGettigan. “My task is not to attain eloquence, but only speak on behalf of the victims. They deserve no less.”
Sandusky closed his eyes as McGettigan read the rest of his poignant statement. “His statement [yesterday]is an insult to the true victims, an insult to the court, and insult to human decency — but that’s not a surprise,” McGettigan read. “He treated his victims like his sexual property to be used as he saw fit.”
McGettigan called The Second Mile a “victim factory”, and said that “Sandusky selected the most vulnerable. He was undeterred. He’d find one and move on to another.”
“If the words existed that would undo the harm this criminal caused, I would say them,” McGettigan concluded. “No human being with a beating heart could be silent if those words existed, but they do not exist.”
Sandusky’s attorney Joe Amendola was next to speak, albeit briefly. “This is a sad day—sad day for the Commonwealth, the community, for Mr. Sandusky—a sad day for everyone,” said Amendola. He added, “I’m asking the court not to ignore all the positive things Mr. Sandusky did in his life.”
Several statements from Sandusky’s victims were then read by McGettigan. Victim 1 said in a statement, “He promised to be my friend and mentor. Then came the ultimate betrayal…Jerry Sandusky humiliated me.”
Victim 9’s mother also had a statement read by the prosecution. “Shame on you. Shame on you, Mr. Sandusky,” McGettigan read. “There is no punishment sufficient for you. You are a horrible person.”
Three of Sandusky’s victims then addressed the court, with quivering voices, full of emotion. Victim 6, perhaps the most emotional, began, “I’ve been left with deep painful wounds that have been buried in the garden of my heart for many years.”
Victim 5 was next, and looked directly at Sandusky as he said, “It is real. It is painful. And it will be inside me forever…He took my childhood the day he assaulted me. He should be sentenced accordingly.”
Victim 4 was the final victim to address Sandusky, and expressed remorse for telling anyone about the abuse. “I ask that others who were abused before me will forgive me for not coming forward sooner,” he said.
Then, the moment everyone has been anticipating for months. Jerry Sandusky, voice quivering, with a prominent slouch, stood before Judge Cleland and spoke for the first time in many months. “I did not do these terrible disgusting acts. I speak from my heart in hope of a better day,” he said.
“Hopefully, somewhere, some day, my words will impact at least one person. There is a lot left to learn if you choose to do that,” said Sandusky. “I feel the need to talk, not from arrogance, but from my heart. There is so much that I want to say. I am filled with emotion. I am filled with determination. I speak today hoping for a brighter day not knowing when that day will come.”
“These are people I cared about. I still do,” said Sandusky of his victims. “I would cherish the opportunity to be a little candle of hope as my life goes on…They can treat me as a monster, but they cannot take away my heart, and in my heart I know that I did not do these things,” said Sandusky. “Often when times are darkest, God sends his light.”
Sandusky’s voice rose when he spoke of better times, reliving them in his mind. “I’ve been on the mountaintop. I’ve been in the darkness of the shadow of the valley of death. I’ve been in the locker room crying as a national champion. I’ve been in the locker room crying after a significant loss,” said Sandusky. “I’ve been to prisons to see Second Mile children. And now, I’m in one.”
Sandusky emphasized his continuing adoration for his family, specifically his wife Dottie. “We are going to smile. Because I’ve always smiled through the pain. We’re gonna laugh. We’re gonna cry. Because that’s who we are,” said Sandusky. “I’ve been a fighter. I’ve been me. I’ve been loved. I’ve been hated. I’ve lived long enough to cherish many memories.”
“I celebrated my 46th wedding anniversary in prison,” said Sandusky. “I rolled out of bed thinking I was going to give my wife a hug and kiss. Instead, I hit my head on the wall. It was symbolic to me because I have hit walls a lot lately.”
“I told Dottie it was our fourth quarter. When I used to coach, you find out in the fouth quarter who is committed – who will stand by you.”
“To my loved ones I want to say the most difficult part of this is the pain and separation. Some of the labeling and treatment hurt, but it doesn’t compare to their absence,” continued Sandusky. “She and others are standing strong. I like to believe that they know me the most. It is for those still standing up for me that we will continue to fight.”
“It would be unmanageable without God’s light – without God’s hope and love. This matters the most anyway.”
Judge John Cleland then delivered the sentence, count by count, amounting to a minimum of 30 years in prison. The maximum sentence was set at 60 years, but it didn’t matter. Judge Cleland made it clear to Sandusky that a 30-year sentence for a 68-year old man would be a life sentence.
“I’m not going to sentence you to centuries in prison, but talking to a 68-year old man about decades in prison is not practical,” said Cleland. “It is this remarkable ability to deceive that makes these crimes so heinous.”
Judge Cleland also addressed the numerous victims seated in the front row of the gallery. “The fact that you were assaulted is no cause for embarrassment or shame,” Cleland said. “As children you are the victims of a pedophile… His conduct was no fault of your own.”
And then, eyes watering, Jerry Sandusky walked out of the Centre County Courtroom for the last time, and drove to the prison where he will stay for the rest of his life.