BELLEFONTE, Pa. — The description of accused child sex abuser no longer applies to Jerry Sandusky. After being found guilty on 45 molestation charges here Friday night, Sandusky is now a convicted child sex abuser.
Following an eight-day trial and some 20 hours of deliberation, a Centre Country jury handed down a verdict that will most certainly send the 68-year-old former Penn State assistant coach to prison for the rest of his life.
In the fifth row of the gallery, Victim 6 — now a 25-year-old man — and his family wept as the verdicts were read, one-by-one. After court adjourned, a woman wrapped her arms around the victim and whispered, It's over. It's finally over.
A crowd erupted in cheers as the verdict was announced outside the Centre County Courthouse a short while later.
Sandusky faced 48 charges of molesting 10 boys during a 15-year period. He was found not guilty on three of the charges.
As guilty verdict after guilty verdict came down, Sandusky stood at the defense table with no hint of emotion on his now weary, thickly lined face. His left hand was in a pant pocket, he right hand hanging free. A brown suede jacket with gray patterned tie seemed an odd pairing for what he surely knew was his last day as a free man.
Sandusky remanded; awaits sentencing
After Judge John Cleland revoked bail, a sheriff's deputy escorted Sandusky from the courtroom. The convicted criminal was handcuffed, paraded past photographers crowded around the back of the courthouse and taken via marked cruiser to the Centre County Jail a few miles away.
Sandusky will remain there for about 90 days while authorities conduct a pre-sentencing evaluation for sex offenders before he is returned to this very courtroom to be sentenced by Cleland.
When court adjourned, Sandusky's family huddled near the front of the gallery, most of them crying. His wife, Dottie, accused by victims of ignoring signs of her husband's abusive behavior but charged with no crimes, was at the center of the circle.
This is not a surprise, this is what everyone expected, defense attorney Joe Amendola said while standing a few feet away from the family.
Indeed, Amendola earlier admitted that Sandusky spent most of the day at his State College home because he was exhausted after spending seven months declaring his innocence and because he feared he would never return. He had been under house arrest since early December.
Jury did not buy defense arguments
In attempting to clear Sandusky, Amendola contended that investigators coached the accusers to make his behavior sound much worse than it actually was. The defense also accused the six victims who had hired attorneys of skewing their testimony to force guilty verdicts in this case because that would open the door for them to cash in on civil suits.
The jury didn't buy any of it.
During deliberation — which was considered extremely long for this county — the panel only came back into the courtroom twice.
The first was for a re-reading of the testimony transcripts of Mike McQueary and Dr. Jonathan Dranov, who offered conflicting accounts of the 2001 incident involving Victim 2. No victim came forward in the case so Sandusky's fate hung on the believability of McQueary's testimony. McQueary was a graduate assistant coach at Penn State in 2001 and Sandusky a former coach.
Of the five charges stemming from that incident, four held up. Sandusky was found not guilty of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with the victim but guilty of felony unlawful contact with a minor and three misdemeanors.
The jury also sought clarification on using excited utterance as circumstantial evidence, which came into play with the 2000 incident involving Victim 8. This was the situation in which a janitor witnessed Sandusky assaulting a child and told his co-workers of it. The eyewitness was later stricken with dementia and unable to testify. Since the victim never came forward, the prosecution relied on testimony of a co-worker of the eyewitness.
The jury delivered guilty verdicts on all five charges stemming from the incident, including felony counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and unlawful contact.
Overall, Sandusky was convicted of 24 felony counts of sex abuse. Most of the 12 jurors stared straight at him as the verdicts were read. Each supported their decisions loud and clear when defense asked for a polling of the jury. All jurors declined to meet the media after the trial.
Of the 12 members of the jury — seven women and five men — nine had ties to Penn State. That did not include the foreman, No. 4, an engineer from nearby State College. As he prepared to read the verdicts, the packed courtroom fell silent for the first time in the trial, the only noise the creaking sounds from the old pew-style seats in the two-century old building as people adjusted to make sure they could hear the verdicts.
The first four verdicts were on two felony counts of IDSI, one felony count of indecent assault and one felony count of unlawful contact — all for crimes committed against Victim 1 in the case. The jury delivered four guilty verdicts, and the courtroom came alive with the tap tap tap of reporters furiously typing away in an attempt to meet their deadlines.
Those convictions alone were enough to send Sandusky to prison for the rest of his life. But then came another. And another. It went on and on.
Victims received rapid updates on the verdicts
Victim 6 was the only accuser in the courtroom for the verdict. But the moment court adjourned, Tony Sassano, the agent from the Attorney General's who spearheaded the investigation that led to Sandusky's arrest, began calling the other seven known victims. As the celebration involving hundreds was taking place in front of the courthouse, Sassano was quietly telling the victims how thing unfolded.
Ten minutes later, beaming, he told a co-worker, I think I talked to them all.
Lingering effects of the scandal
Though Friday's verdicts concluded this particular case, it hardly drew a close to the Sandusky scandal. Thursday, Sandusky's 33-year-old adopted son, Matt, joined the ranks of those who have accused the former coach of abuse. Matt Sandusky did so through his attorney.
Also Friday, a hearing was set for the two former Penn State administrators facing perjury and failure-to-report charges in connection with the Sandusky case. Former athletic director Tim Curley and former vice-president Gary Schultz will stand before a judge in Dauphin County, Pa., July 11, attempting to have the failure-to-report charges dropped because the 10-year statute of limitation on the alleged crimes has passed. No date has been set for their trial.
Later this summer, Penn State is expected to received the results of the independent investigation it commissioned from former FBI director Louis Freeh. Freeh's wide-ranging probe is looking at the way the university as a whole dealt with the Sandusky scandal.
A bit of irony on an emotional day
But Friday night in Bellefonte — and across the nation — the focus was squarely on the man at the center of this mess.
Sandusky, considered one of the best defensive coordinators in college football when he retired from Penn State in 1999, was taken from the main courtroom, handcuffed, and then led out the back of the building toward the waiting cruiser.
The sheriff's deputy who escorted him was named Chris Snare.
Ironically enough, in these parts he is better known as the former star quarterback at Bellefonte High School.