Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, 68, was sentenced to no less than 30 years and no more than 60 years in prison at a hearing on Tuesday. It is, effectively, a life sentence.
Sandusky was convicted in June of sexually abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period, and faced a maximum of 400 years in prison.
Four of Sandusky's victims were in court with their families. The victims were emotional as they addressed the court and faced down the convicted pedophile.
Sandusky remained stone-faced, while his family looked down during the victims' testimony. Matt Sandusky, an adopted son of Jerry Sandusky who at the end of the trial accused the former coach of abusing him, was not in the courtroom, CNN's Laura Dolan reported. Matt Sandusky's birth mother, Debra Long, sat in the back row of the courtroom.
One of Sandusky's victims, known as Victim No. 5, addressed the court during his sentencing.
"The sentence will never erase what he did to me. It will never make me whole," the victim said. "He must pay for his crimes, take into account the tears, the pain, the private anguish."
"The pain is real and it will be inside me forever," Victim No. 5 said. He added that he will never forget the image of Sandusky "forcing himself on me and forcing my hand on him."
Sandusky maintains his innocence. He insisted several times in court, "I did not do these disgusting acts."
An attorney for Victim No. 4 said Sandusky should at last 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."
Victim No. 4 spoke angrily as he looked directly at Sandusky. He said he came from a broken home, and that Sandusky only made his life worse.
“I will not forgive you, Jerry Sandusky,” Victim No. 4 said, according to Jean Casarez of "In Session." “I will not forgive you, but I ask that all the other victims forgive me for not coming forward sooner.”
Sandusky had pleaded his case in an audio statement Monday in which he protested his innocence and insisted he was falsely accused.
The attorney for a man who claims he was repeatedly sexually abused by Sandusky as 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, who represents Travis Weaver, now 30. Weaver did not testify in Sandusky's trial, but did file a civil action against the former coach.
Before Sandusky was sentenced, Victim No. 6 asked Sandusky to “please repent, or there is a bigger judgment to come,” Casarez reported.
Victim No. 6, a recent college graduate, brought allegations against Sandusky in 1998, but no charges were filed at that time. On Tuesday, he cried on the stand before testifying. He described the "deep wounds" that left him praying for help.
“As I try to put this 1998 incident into focus, I realize now how you manipulated me and what you did to me. I thought you were an incredible person. I now know the truth. … The person I was, I changed, I became a social outcast. I didn’t know how to process (what you did to me),” Victim No. 6 said in court, according to Casarez.
“If you seek forgiveness, Jesus will forgive you. There’s not any other way. Please repent, or there is a bigger judgment to come,” Victim No. 6 said.
The judge noted the long-term damage Sandusky inflicted on his victims.
"This crime is not only what you did to their bodies, but their psyche and souls," Judge John Cleland said. Some victims "have had their innocence taken" and "their sense of community shattered," he added.
The judge also addressed the victims: "The fact that you were assaulted is no cause for shame... It is for your courage that you will be remembered." And, he said, they will heal.
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