Jerry Sandusky entered the Centre County Courthouse Friday as one of the most celebrated figures in the history of Penn State sports and left a convicted child molester.
A Pennsylvania jury convicted former assistant football coach Sandusky on 45 of 48 counts related to sexual abuse of boys over a 15-year period, ending a painful chapter for victims and the Penn State community, reports CNN.
One of the victims who had testified earlier burst into tears in the court as the verdict was read. Sandusky stood and faced the foreman and appeared expressionless, tucking his hands into his pockets.
His wife, Dottie, sitting behind him, showed no emotion.
The 68-year-old could spend the rest of his life in prison.
“The Sandusky family is very disappointed by the verdict of the jury, but we respect their verdict,” defense lawyer Joe Amendola told reporters. Jeering crowds occasionally interrupted his comments.
Sandusky did not testify on his own behalf, but his wife, Dottie Sandusky, took the stand and said she never witnessed any inappropriate contact between her husband and the young boys, according to The Huff Post.
Sandusky’s arrest last November rocked the world of college sports, triggering a shakeup of college administration and also led to the firing of one of college football’s most revered figures, coach Joe Paterno, who died two months laterfrom lung cancer.
According to People, eight alleged victims testified that Sandusky approached them through The Second Mile, his now-defunct charity for disadvantaged boys, bought them gifts, took them to football games and, ultimately, sexually assaulting them.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly, expressed satisfaction in the jury’s decision to hold the ex-coach accountable. She said she was especially grateful for the victims who testified, in some cases many years after they were abused.
“It was incredibly difficult for some of them to unearth long buried memories of (what) they had suffered,” Kelly said. “This trial was not something that they sought, but rather something that forced them to face the demons of their past.”
One more shocking new revelation hit shortly after jury deliberations began on Thursday when a lawyer for Matt Sandusky, one of Jerry Sandusky’s six adopted children, said Matt Sandusky had met with prosecutors to tell them he had been sexually abused by the former coach, writes Reuters.
The family of Paterno issued a statement Friday after the verdict.
“Although we understand the task of healing is just beginning, today’s verdict is an important milestone,” the statement said.
“The community owes a measure of gratitude to the jurors for their diligent service. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the victims and their families,” Paterno’s family said.
“No verdict can undo the pain and suffering caused by Mr. Sandusky, but we do hope this judgment helps the victims and their families along their path to healing,” Penn State said in a statement.
Penn State announced it will invite the victims to participate in a program to facilitate resolution.
“The university wants to provide a forum where the university can privately, expeditiously and fairly address the victims’ concerns and compensate them for claims relating to the University.”
Crime expert Scott A. Bonn, an assistant professor of sociology at Drew University, called the decision “a certainty.”
“This case shocked the nation, violated our collective sense of morality and demonstrated that our children may not be safe from sexual predators after all,” Bonn said. “The jury had a moral obligation to society to convict Sandusky, and the only verdict that could restore public trust and equilibrium is guilty. I would have been shocked by any other verdict.”