Penn State Abuse
BELLEFONTE, Pa. (AP) — A judge dashed the hopes of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky for a shorter prison term Friday, resentencing him to the same 30 to 60 years imposed against him in 2012 for sexually abusing children.
Judge Maureen Skerda gave Sandusky what prosecutors and his own attorney described as effectively a life term during a hearing ordered this year by an appeals court.
Sandusky’s 2011 arrest prompted the firing of Hall of Fame head coach Joe Paterno and the university has paid more than $100 million to people who said they had been abused by Sandusky.
He was convicted of 45 counts of child sexual abuse in 2012.
Sandusky, 75, in a mustard yellow prison jumpsuit, again asserted his innocence Friday and choked up twice during brief remarks in open court before the sentence was handed down.
“I apologize that I’m unable to admit remorse for this because it’s something that I didn’t do,” Sandusky told Skerda.
Sandusky told the judge Friday about a recent phone call with an unnamed woman who formerly worked for The Second Mile, a charity he founded for at-risk youth that he used to find and groom child victims.
Sandusky said the woman ended the phone call by telling him she loves him.
“No matter what, nobody or nothing will ever be able to take away what’s in my heart. And that was just one. There are many, many, many more,” he said, people he “had every opportunity to betray and didn’t.”
He ended with a message to people who support him. About a dozen were in the courtroom, including his wife, Dottie.
“To those supporters out there, I just want to say I love you,” he said, sobbing as he sat down.
Prosecutor Jennifer Buck, of the state attorney general’s office, described problems Sandusky has had in state prison, including disputes about returning his meal tray, resistance to being moved from his cell and complaints about phone calls.
“It’s failure to take responsibility, claiming that he is the victim, which is a theme throughout this case, and that it’s his rights that are being violated,” Buck told the judge.
Sandusky attorney Al Lindsay noted he had recently received several letters that attested to Sandusky’s character and to good deeds he has performed.
Buck argued that jurors believed the eight young men who testified against Sandusky, victims she said were sexually assaulted “by someone that they loved, someone that they trusted, someone that betrayed them.”
Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in a written statement that “justice was again achieved for his victims.”
A state appeals court this year turned down most of Sandusky’s arguments seeking a new trial but said laws mandating sentence minimums in place at the time of his October 2012 sentencing had since changed.
Victims said at trial that Sandusky subjected them to a range of abuse, from grooming to violent attacks. A victim advocate read several letters to the judge Friday from the men who testified at trial or their relatives.
The letters described the effect of their abuse as boys and in the years since, including anxiety, difficulty with family and social relationships and anger about what occurred.
One of them, described as Victim 4 in court records, said he does not forgive Sandusky and spoke of efforts to “attack us as if we had done something wrong.”
“We both know exactly what happened,” Victim 4 wrote. “You should be ashamed of yourself.”
Sandusky’s lawyers in October initiated a federal court action seeking a new trial or release from prison.