Up until the moment he was sentenced to essentially life in prison, former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky spoke in defiant terms that showed no remorse, insisting that he was innocent of sexually abusing any child and that he was a victim of a conspiracy.
His rambling 15-minute statement in Centre County court Tuesday reflected what some said was the sense of denial Sandusky had exhibited all through his trial, even when his victims described the pain, humiliation and mental torment of sexual abuse .
“Others can take my life,” Sandusky, 68, said before his 30-to-60-years sentence was handed down. “They can treat me as a monster. They can take away my heart, but I know in my heart that I did not do these alleged acts.”
Sandusky will be 98 years old before he can be considered for release after his June conviction on 45 counts of sexually abusing 10 boys over 15 years in places including his Pennsylvania home and in the showers of the football training facility at Penn State University.
At a televised news conference after the sentencing, prosecutor Joseph E. McGettigan III dismissed Sandusky’s claims as “a masterpiece of banal self-delusion, completely untethered from reality and without any acceptance of responsibility. It was entirely self-focused, as if he again were the victim. It was, in short, ridiculous.”
But Sandusky’s statements were in keeping with the way the scandal had evolved. From the beginning, when he was arrested almost a year ago, Sandusky has always maintained he was innocent. He acknowledged that he had showered with young boys and had sometimes touched them, but denied there was anything sexual in the acts. Not even the reports of the victims' stories have swayed the former coach from his clarion call that he was innocent.
In court Tuesday, Sandusky spoke of his past reputation as a humanitarian, citing the charity he founded to help children, a youth organization that prosecutors said provided the stream of boys that Sandusky groomed with gifts before abusing them.
“I've forgiven, I've been forgiven. I've comforted others, I've been comforted. I've been kissed by dogs, I've been bit by dogs,” Sandusky said. “I've conformed, I've also been different. I've been me. I've been loved, I've been hated.”
The onetime football coach said he would appeal the conviction.
Eight of the victims testified during the trial, which ended in conviction and with Sandusky being immediately taken to the county jail, where he read and wrote, worked out twice a day and waited three months for sentencing.
After Tuesday’s court appearance, Sandusky was turned over to state corrections authorities who will decide in which prison and under what conditions he will serve his time.
On Tuesday, three of the victims, who have not been named by the news media, came forward to demand justice. In brief statements directed to the judge, but at times clearly aimed at Sandusky, they described the lasting effects the abuse has had on their lives.
“I will never erase from my mind the filthy images of his naked body, him forcing himself against me and my hands against him,” a 24-year-old man identified by prosecutors as Victim 5 said, according to news reports from the courtroom. “It is real. It is painful and it will be inside me forever.”
A 26-year-old man, Victim 6, explained how he was just beginning to understand how he was victimized by Sandusky, who said he was the “tickle monster” and repeatedly touched the then-11-year-old boy.
“You can choose to be in denial about what you have done,” Victim 6 said of Sandusky's claims of innocence. “If you remain in denial about your actions you will not be able to seek forgiveness from God in the way that only he delivers.”
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