Jerry Sandusky was sentenced this week, receiving a 30 to 60 year prison sentence after being found guilty on 45 counts of child sexual abuse. The revelation of Sandusky’s crime and what many feel was at worst a cover up and at best a case of ‘looking the other way’ by Penn State University and high profile members of its administration became one of the biggest sports news stories of our lifetime. The Nittany Lions’ football program will need years to recover and the reputation of late coach Joe Paterno is forever tarnished.
The judge didn’t ‘throw the book’ at Sandusky in handing down his sentence though he had considerable leeway to do so. Sandusky could have been sentenced to hundreds of years in prison and some suggest that Judge John Cleland should have done so for strictly symbolic reasons. Not it it makes much difference on a practical level–under Pennsylvania State Law the full term of the minimum sentence must be served before a convict is eligible for parole or other form of early release. That means that Sandusky would have to reach 118 before he could even be under consideration for release.
Last week Sandusky’s lawyer revealed that his client would speak at his sentencing. That made the last days before the sentence was given a huge train wreck. It started with a rambling monologue by Sandusky that was played on the Penn State campus radio station in which he repeatedly framed himself as a ‘victim’ of a wide ranging and downright absurd conspiracy involving Penn State, his victims, the media, law enforcement and the judicial system. He continued the same themes in his statement in court which included this bizarre observation:
“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. I’ve conformed, I’ve also been different. I’ve been me. I’ve been loved, I’ve been hated.”
Prosecutor Joe McGettigan’s reaction to Sandusky’s radio appearance and court statement was typical, calling it “a masterpiece of banal self-delusion, completely untethered from reality and without any acceptance of responsibility.”
Defense lawyer Joseph Amendola maintains–likely without much conviction–that Sandusky was never able to give his side of the story:
“He always wanted to tell people his side of the allegations. However, the potential evidence, whether true or not, was so devastating.”