A sentencing hearing is to begin within the hour for Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant football coach who will learn whether he will be locked away for the rest of his life for sexually abusing 10 disadvantaged boys.
Sandusky and up to six of his victims are expected to address the court in Bellefonte, Pa. Under state sentencing guidelines, Judge John M. Cleland could impose anywhere from 10 years to more than 400 years in prison.
Sandusky, 68, was convicted of 45 counts of abusing 10 boys in June but has proclaimed his innocence. Late Monday, the student-run Penn State news website PSUComMedia.com and the student radio station obtained an audiotape in which Sandusky did so again and blamed one victim in particular for the allegations.
JERRY SANDUSKY: The history and heart of the case
His attorneys confirmed the tape's authenticity but said they didn't know how the website obtained it.
In the tape, Sandusky says one victim shaped the testimony of others, abetted by aggressive prosecutors, the media, Penn State and more. "A young man who was dramatic, a veteran accuser and always sought attention, started everything," he says.
He laments "false allegations" and hopes some good can come of the ordeal. He asks for a second chance.
“They can take away my life. They can make me out as a monster. They can treat me as a monster, but they can't take away my heart,” he says. “In my heart, I know I did not do these alleged disgusting acts.”
In the past, Sandusky has said he did nothing criminal but did make mistakes -- as he famously told Bob Costas in November 2011, shortly after the allegations emerged: "I shouldn't have showered with those kids."
Tuesday's proceedings are expected to begin at 9 a.m. EDT.
First, the judge will decide whether Sandusky will be classified as a sexually violent predator. If so, Sandusky would be required to fulfill special reporting procedures if he is ever released.
But given the potential amount of time in prison he faces, and his age, release is unlikely.
At least half a dozen counts have a minimum 10-year prison sentence. If Cleland opts to have him serve those terms concurrently, any best-case scenario wouldn't see Sandusky leaving prison before he turns 78.
The scandal cost legendary football coach Joe Paterno his job, along with that of university president Graham Spanier. Two other university officials are charged with failing to report the suspected abuse and with perjury related to their testimony before a grand jury.
In addition, the NCAA imposed stiff penalties on Penn State, including a four-year ban on bowl-game play and a $60-million fine. The NCAA also vacated 111 wins from 1998-2011, beginning when the university first learned of allegations against Sandusky. The result: Paterno no longer holds the record for the most coaching victories in major college football.
Paterno, 85, died of cancer in January, months after his dismissal. In July, Penn State removed a Paterno statue that had stood outside the football stadium for years.
More on the Sandusky sentencing as it happens at Nation Now.
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