Jerry Sandusky Resentenced To 30-60 Years In State Prison
Former Penn State football assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was resentenced on 45 counts of child sexual abuse Friday to serve 30-60 years in state prison — the same sentence he received in 2012 — at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte.
Judge Maureen Skerda delivered Sandusky’s sentence after hearing comments from Sandusky’s defense attorney Al Lindsay, Senior Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Buck, and Sandusky himself. Statements from four of Sandusky’s victims and the mother of another were also read before the court.
The Pennsylvania Superior Court ordered Sandusky’s resentencing after it found that mandatory minimum penalty guidelines had been improperly applied to his conviction while denying him a new trial in February. The sentencing was delayed several times before the November 22 date was officially set earlier this month.
Sandusky, 75, was sentenced to serve 30-60 years in state prison after he was convicted on 45 counts of child sexual abuse in October 2012.
Sandusky entered the courtroom smiling and waiving to individuals in the courtroom Friday. Proceedings began with comments from Lindsay, Sandusky’s lead defense attorney, who called the hearing “the most important sentencing hearing I’ve ever attended.”
Lindsay said that he couldn’t speak to how prison or punishment had changed Sandusky because Sandusky hadn’t committed a crime, noting that Sandusky has repeatedly denied the allegations levied against him.
Lindsay then read from letters sent by neighbors and friends that served as character references for Sandusky. One called Sandusky “one of the most giving and caring people I know,” while another recalled that Sandusky had “organized activities” for the children of others.
Lindsay noted that the letters were sent recently, and that Sandusky “would epitomize a fine christian gentleman of the highest order if he is telling the truth.”
After noting that Sandusky had been placed in solitary confinement for five and a half years, Lindsay called Sandusky’s previous sentence a “life sentence” and the “worst injustice in the history of American jurisprudence,” a comment he reiterated after the trial.
“I believe that he will get a new trial and he will be exonerated,” he said. “My hope is that he will be alive to see it.”
Lindsay and Robert Buttner, another member of Sandusky’s defense team, said that Sandusky was experiencing health issues, but declined to go into detail about what those issues were following the trial.
Lindsay requested a “substantial reduction in sentence” for Sandusky to close his remarks in court.
Buck then officially addressed the errors in mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines that had lead to Sandusky’s resentencing before making her own remarks. After speaking about Sandusky’s conviction and listing the names of his victims, Buck read from official records of Sandusky’s time in prison that detailed several misconduct violations.
She then read from ten reports of Sandusky’s misconduct charges and complaints while serving his prison sentence. These included an instance in which Sandusky reportedly refused to return a dinner tray until he had finished eating, refused to move to different sections of the prison when he was told he needed to, and, when the delivery of razors to inmates was reportedly delayed, claimed that he was being subjected to cruel and unusual punishment because he wasn’t able to shave before a court appearance.
He was also found guilty of misconduct after claiming that he was being denied the use of an iPad, and when, in 2018, officials found various pills inside the seat pocket of the car that was transporting him from one facility to another. Sandusky also filed complaints that alleged that guards had deceived him when they denied him a phone call, when in fact he hadn’t followed the proper protocol to secure use of a phone according to the report. He also complained when he was denied a request to allow a video interview with a journalist because the use of recording equipment is prohibited according to the policy of the prison where he has served his sentence.
“There’s a common theme that runs through this — blaming others, failures to accept responsibility,” Buck said.
Buck also referenced Sandusky’s pre-scandal reputation as an upstanding citizen.
“He did all of those things, but that’s the public side of Jerry Sandusky,” she said. “He betrayed [his victims], he manipulated them, and he exploited that trust in private.”
Buck said that no evidence existed to warrant a reduced sentence for Sandusky.
Sandusky was then given the opportunity to speak. He said that he hadn’t planned to speak at the hearing but had changed his mind because of a recent experience.
“I just want to thank the court for giving me an opportunity to speak. I apologize that I’m unable to admit remorse for this because it’s something that I didn’t do,” he began.
Sandusky went on to explain that he had recently called his wife at home, where he said she was being visited by a former spokesperson of the Second Mile charity who had just adopted a young child. Sandusky said, choking with emotion, that he had heard the child interacting with his wife and the former spokesperson, and that the moment had inspired him.
“That little kid knew where the light is,” he said. “I know too because there is light.”
“There were many others I had every opportunity to betray, and didn’t,” he said.
When Sandusky finished, Jennifer Storm, a victim advocate for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, read statements from four of Sandusky’s victims — identified as Victim 1, Victim 6, Victim 5, and Victim 4 as well as the mother of Victim 9. None of the victims were present in the courtroom.
“They chose absolutely not to attend. That decision is not to be misconstrued as a sign of their leniency or their forgiveness in any way,” Storm said after the hearing, noting that the recurrence of the case causes more trauma for Sandusky’s victims. “They simply did not want to put themselves through the trauma of having to be here and having to be with him in court again.”
Each statement relived the impact of Sandusky’s actions on the individual’s life, and expressed the trauma that the process of reliving it in court caused.
“He promised to be my friend and mentor, then came the ultimate betrayal and the disgusting deeds,” Vicitim 1’s statement read, describing his experience as “emotional agony, where it’s impossible to trust anyone.”
“You have destroyed my family, I cannot forgive you for that,” read the statement from the mother of Victim 9, who described her own struggles in dealing with her son’s trauma.
Other statements urged Sandusky to admit his guilt, while others described the abuse they suffered because of him. One victim wrote that he was “troubled by flashbacks of Sandusky’s naked body.”
Skerda then made several comments before relaying Sandusky’s sentence, reminding Sandusky that his victims are forced to relive a “legacy of trauma” with each post-conviction legal action he takes.
“I also want the victims to understand that your criminal actions are not their fault,” she said.
Sandusky’s legal team now has the opportunity to appeal the result of the resentencing hearing for a limited time. Lindsay and Buttner said they would make decisions on their next legal steps within the next 10 days. Lindsay said that the team was, if the opportunity arose, “anxious to defend” new allegations that recently surfaced against Sandusky and reportedly occurred between 2000 and 2010.
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Roll your eyes all you want. This is a “We Are” moment if I’ve ever seen one.
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