Sandusky To Be Sentenced Today; Professes Innocence
BELLEFONTE, Pennsylvania (CNN) — Convicted pedophile Jerry Sandusky may face up to life in prison when he is sentenced Tuesday morning for sexually abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period.
And while some of his victims and Sandusky himself are expected to address the judge during the proceedings, he pleaded his case in an audio statement that aired Monday in which he protests his innocence and says he is falsely accused.
“They could take away my life, they could make me out as a monster, they could treat me as a monster, but they can’t take away my heart,” the former coach at Penn State says. “In my heart, I know I did not do these alleged disgusting acts.”
In his statement, Sandusky also accused the judge of bringing the case to trial too quickly, the victims of conspiring together and the attorneys of trying to make money in future civil suits. Members of his defense team have long maintained that they were denied sufficient time to prepare.
Tom Kline, an attorney for the person identified in court as Victim No. 5, called Sandusky’s words “preposterous.”
“If you are to believe Mr. Sandusky, then we have the grand conspiracy, which his lawyers attempted to play out in the court, which involved 10 young men, a janitor, Mr. (Mike) McQueary, the press, the lawyers and everyone else who’s involved,” Kline told CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront” Monday evening.
“The fact of the matter is that there was no collusion whatsoever. My client came forward only after there was a knock on the door by the police, which led him to a grand jury room. He had never spoken to anyone. He told his story.”
McQueary, a former Penn State assistant football, testified that he saw Sandusky in a shower with an underage boy. He filed a whistleblower lawsuit last week against the university, according to a court document from Centre County, Pennsylvania.
Sandusky co-counsel Karl Rominger confirmed the audio statement is legitimate.
“If he wants to say that, God bless the First Amendment,” Rominger said.
Penn State University’s ComRadio first aired the audio clip on its website Monday evening.
“We will continue to fight,” he said in the audio statement. “We didn’t lose the proven facts, evidence, accurate locations and times. Anything can be said. We lost to speculation and stories that were influenced by people who wanted to convict me.”
But an attorney for Victim No. 4 sees it differently, saying Sandusky needs to confess his guilt.
“One thing that’s critical for victims’ healing is an acknowledgment of guilt. (Sandusky) is stunting that healing,” attorney Ben Andreozzi said. “He is either delusional, or the victim of one of the most comprehensive conspiracies of mankind.”
The attorney for a man who claims he was repeatedly sexually abused by Sandusky while a child said the statement is a reminder that child predators justify their actions.
“Pedophiles often believe they did not do anything wrong. In their twisted universe, they helped their victims and loved them,” said Marci Hamilton, an attorney for Travis Weaver, now 30. Weaver did not testify in Sandusky’s trial, but did file a civil action against the former coach.
It has been nearly a year since the Penn State scandal erupted, leading to the firing of iconic head football coach Joe Paterno and the ouster of the university’s longtime president.
Jurors determined in June that Sandusky, a 68-year-old former defensive coordinator, used his access to university facilities and a foundation he founded for under-privileged youth to sexually abuse the boys.
His attorney, Joe Amendola, said Monday that his client, who is being held in the Centre County, Pennsylvania, jail, plans to read a statement before the court. Sandusky’s statement should take five to 10 minutes, he said, but likely will steer clear of the argument he failed to receive a fair trial. On Monday the judge made it clear sentencing wouldn’t be the place for such legal arguments, Amendola said.
On June 22, Sandusky was convicted on 45 counts of child sex abuse, ranging from corruption of minors to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, which were laid out in graphic testimony by his accusers over the course of the less-than-two-week trial.
His attorneys will have 10 days after the sentencing to appeal the decision.
At least of three of Sandusky’s victims are expected to be in attendance on Tuesday, according to their attorneys. Two of them plan to address the former coach directly, while the third is expected to have a statement read by prosecutors.
The statement from Victim No. 4 “will convey anger,” said Andreozzi said. “He is nowhere near forgiving Sandusky.”
Kline’s client, Victim No. 5, also plans to speak. He provided a statement to CNN
“I hope and pray that when Your Honor sentences Mr. Sandusky that you consider the real harm he has done to me and others, and take into account the tears, pain and private anguish I and others have suffered,” he said.
Members of Sandusky’s family, including his wife, Dottie, will submit letters of support to the court as will some of the former participants in the Second Mile foundation, Amendola said.
During the trial, which garnered national attention and cast a shadow on Penn State’s heralded football program, the 23-year-old Victim No. 4 testified that he was only 13 when Sandusky sexually abused him in a university shower.
That account is separate from a 2001 incident about which then-graduate assistant McQueary testified, saying that he saw the former coach pressed up against the back of a boy in the shower room of the Lasch Football Building.
Prosecutors described during the trial how Sandusky showered with the boy, using locker room “soap fights” as a pretext for abuse.
Sandusky’s attorneys say they plan to appeal the guilty verdict, and will argue that the jury’s opinions had been tainted by a prosecution reference to a disturbing interview their client did with NBC’s Bob Costas prior to the trial.
CNN legal contributor Paul Callan called Sandusky’s audio statement another “horrible mistake” akin to the Costas interview and one that likely won’t sit well with the judge.
“If Sandusky wanted to give a press interview and tell his side of the story after sentencing, believe me, everyone is looking to talk to him,” Callan said. “So why wouldn’t you wait, do this in a dignified way, hope for the lowest possibly sentence and then take your case to the public?”
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” he said on “Erin Burnett OutFront.”
Less than a month after Sandusky’s conviction, former FBI Director Louis Freeh released his university-funded report that blamed Paterno, President Graham Spanier, suspended Athletic Director Tim Curley and ex-Vice President Gary Schultz for taking part in a cover-up to avoid bad publicity.
Freeh also said Paterno could have stopped the attacks had he done more, though neither McQueary, Sandusky nor Paterno — who died in January — were interviewed by his investigators.
Attorneys for Spanier blasted the review, calling it a “blundering, indefensible indictment” and “a flat-out distortion of facts” that was “infused with bias and innuendo.”
In July, the NCAA imposed sanctions against Penn State, including a $60 million fine, scholarship reductions, the vacating of 112 wins, five years’ probation and a bowl ban for four years.