Jerry Sandusky, in handcuffs, is led away from a Bellefonte, Pa., courthouse… (Robb Carr/Getty Images )
Minutes after former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was led out of a Pennsylvania courthouse in handcuffs, lead defense attorney Joseph Amendola said he believed his client was innocent and intended to appeal the conviction.
A jury of seven women and five men found Sandusky guilty of 45 of 48 counts Friday night related to sexual abuse of 10 boys, sometimes in the basement of his home and in the locker room showers of the storied Penn State football team. He faces a maximum of 442 years in prison.
Amendola and the defense team had portrayed Sandusky as a man who doted on young boys through his charity for children, the Second Mile, but never sexually abused them.
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“There are lots of people sitting in jails all across this country who are innocent,” Amendola said, to boos from a crowd that had gathered on the steps of the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa., awaiting the verdict. At times, a murmur went through the crowd as Amendola talked, sometimes even erupting in more boos and shouted questions.
That “tidal wave of public opinion” had been against Sandusky since the allegations broke last year, Amendola said during the televised news conference.
“We were attempting to climb Mt. Everest from the bottom of the mountain,” Amendola said. “Obviously, we didn’t make it.”
Amendola also addressed why Sandusky did not take the stand, despite earlier reports that his client planned to testify on his own behalf. The prosecution informed Amendola last week that Sandusky’s adopted son Matt wanted to testify that his father had sexually abused him as a boy.
Prosecutors did not call Matt Sandusky, but were prepared to offer him up as a rebuttal witness if Sandusky took the stand. Such testimony would have been difficult to overcome, Amendola said, so Sandusky decided not to testify on his own behalf.
Amendola added that Matt Sandusky’s actions took the family by surprise.
“We had anticipated that Matt would be one of our witnesses,” Amendola said. “His family was shocked by it--his parents, his siblings, were just shocked by it.”
During the trial, Judge John Cleland refused multiple times to grant a continuance to the defense, which would have given Sandusky’s attorneys more time to read through thousands of pages of discovery findings. Amendola and Karl Rominger, the other main defense attorney, said they received so much information that they did not read all of it before the trial began.
“We were running many days by the seat of our pants, just trying to catch up,” Amendola said.
The appeal process will center on issues in the trial and in the evidence, Amendola said, but he did not go into specifics. The appeal would begin after Sandusky is sentenced.
Later, in an interview with CNN, Amendola was asked if Sandusky had ever considered a plea bargain.
“No,” he said. “As a matter of fact, Jerry Sandusky never considered a plea.”
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