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Jerry Sandusky convicted of 45 counts in child sex abuse trial

9:14 AM, Jun 23, 2012   |    comments
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Video: Reaction in State College, PA, to Sandusky guilty verdict.

  • Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, leaves court in handcuffs after being convicted in his child sex abuse trial at the Centre County Courthouse on June 22, 2012 in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
  • Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, leaves court in handcuffs and put into a police car after being convicted in his child sex abuse trial at the Centre County Courthouse on June 22, 2012 in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. (Getty Images)

BELLEFONTE, Pa. - Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky has been found guilty of 45 out of 48 counts of child sexual abuse involving 10 victims.

"Mr. Sandusky, you have been found guilty by a jury of your peers," Judge John Cleland said, adding that Sandusky's sentencing would take place in about 90 days.

He was taken into custody and escorted out of the courthouse. On his way out, he managed a wave to his wife, Dottie Sandusky. He showed no emotion during the reading of the verdict.

A jury of seven women and five men deliberated for the bulk of two days before reaching the verdict late Friday night. They began their work this morning at 9 a.m. by reviewing the testimony of key prosecution witness Michael McQueary, a Penn State assistant football coach, and McQueary family friend Jonathan Dranov.

The two provided differing accounts of a 2001 incident in which McQueary testified that he saw Sandusky and a young boy in a university shower room engaged in what McQueary believed was sodomy. Dranov, a physician, said McQueary's account to him did not include a sexual act.

Later Friday, jurors asked for clarification about rules related to the charges involving a 2000 incident in which the former Penn State assistant football coach was allegedly seen by a janitor in a university shower room sexually assaulting a young boy.

Called back into the courtroom, the panel was instructed by Judge John Cleland that the account of the janitor as related by co-worker Ronald Petrosky was not enough on its own to sustain a conviction. The janitor did not testify because he now suffers from dementia.

But the judge said the panel could include other direct and circumstantial evidence that may support the account, including Petrosky's testimony that he saw Sandusky leaving the shower room with a young boy moments before Petrosky said he encountered the emotionally shaken janitor, James Calhoun. Calhoun, Petrosky testified, said he saw Sandusky performing oral sex on the boy.

The jury returned to its work, as attorneys on both sides and court spectators continued to wait.

Jerry Sandusky's defense attorney Joe Amendola said he would die of a "a heart attack'" if the jury returned with a full acquittal of the former Penn State University assistant football coach.

"Look at the odds against him,'" Amendola said Friday, while awaiting a verdict in the case. "I'll probably die of a heart attack if he is acquitted of every charge."
Amendola, who made his statement in front of reporters and spectators in the courtroom, said his client and his family have been spending the last few days "praying and being with family" in preparation for a decision.

"It's like a funeral,'" the attorney said. "They are exhausted."

The attorney, who argued forcefully for his client Thursday, said that he has tried to prepare Sandusky for the prospect of conviction. Asked whether the former coach truly appreciated the risk he faces, Amendola said Sandusky has a lot of "kid in him.
"God bless him; he has always said he is innocent. This has been a daunting case," Amendola said.

Barred by court order from speaking publicly about the case, Amendola talked to reporters and spectators at length about the trial before a court officer interrupted the impromptu discussion, saying that the judge wanted to see him.

It was immediately unclear whether Amendola would face any court sanction.

Earlier, he said the Sandusky family was "crushed'" by their adopted son's recently-disclosed claim that he had been abused by his father. His attorney, Andrew Shubin, said in a written statement Thursday that the son met with prosecutors and was prepared to testify for the government.

He said Matt Sandusky, 33, had attended the first day of the trial with the Sandusky family and had been on the defense witness list.

He was not called as a witness by either side. The Pennsylvania attorney general's office had no immediate comment.

The jury's decision comes nearly four years after a wide-ranging criminal investigation was launched and seven months after the first of the 48 charges were announced, detailing abuse involving 10 alleged victims over a 15-year period.

Eight of the alleged victims testified during the seven-day trial here, providing often wrenching accounts of abuse, ranging from fondling to forced oral sex and sodomy.

One of the victims recalled how he screamed for help while Sandusky allegedly assaulted him in the basement bedroom of the coach's State College, Pa., home.
In closing arguments earlier Thursday, lead prosecutor Joe McGettigan said Sandusky "accommodated" children to "sexual touch."

"He displayed the full spectrum of predatory pedophile behavior," he said, referring to previous testimony from alleged victims who said their contact with Sandusky routinely began with the former coach putting his hand on their legs during car rides.

In a voice barely audible in the courtroom, McGettigan concluded his argument saying: "I feel like I have 10 souls in my pocket."

He then marched to the defense table and stood beside the defendant, who appeared to be startled by the move.

"You can't give them back the pieces of the souls he took," McGettigan said, as two of the alleged victims watched from the front row.

"Find him guilty of everything. Give him the justice he really deserves," McGettigan said.

Earlier, Sandusky attorney Joe Amendola said the charges against his client came from alleged victims who sought financial gain for their testimony and who were improperly coached by police investigators.

"The system decided that Mr. Sandusky was guilty and the system set out to convict him," Amendola said, referring to police investigators and the prosecution.

Two of the 10 alleged victims have never been found by authorities. However, witnesses to their alleged assaults described two separate instances in which Sandusky abused young boys in Penn State football locker-rooms.

In one of those instances, Penn State assistant football coach Michael McQueary testified that in February 2001 he saw a naked Sandusky positioned behind a boy, believed be as young as 10, engaging in what he believed to be anal sex. McQueary, now on leave from the school, said he did not actually witness penetration, but he described the positioning of the coach, with his groin pressed up against the boy's buttocks, "extremely sexual.''

McQueary's allegations have been among the most explosive in the case against Sandusky, once regarded as one of the top collegiate football position coaches in the nation and as the revered founder of a charity for at-risk children - The Second Mile - once lauded by former president George H.W. Bush.

Sandusky was an assistant coach at Penn State from 1967 to 1999, during which time Penn State won two national championships and was nicknamed "Linebacker U" because it kept churning out All-American defensive players like LaVar Arrington, Matt Millen and Lance Mehl. Sandusky was the defensive line coach, then linebackers coach, then defensive coordinator of the iconic defense.

Sandusky was, at one point, the heir apparent to legendary coach Joe Paterno. And indeed, their names will forever remain linked - because of Sandusky's role in the scandal that stained the university's reputation.

When the McQueary allegation was made public as part of a damning state grand jury report in November, criticism of Penn State's response to McQueary's initial reports of the incident in 2001 prompted the ouster of the university's then-president Graham Spanier and legendary Paterno. The November firings sparked brief rioting in the heart of the central Pennsylvania region known as "Happy Valley.'' Paterno later died in January, succumbing to a brief battle with lung cancer.

Neither Spanier nor Paterno were charged with any crimes, but university Athletic Director Tim Curley, currently on leave, and retired Senior Vice President Gary Schultz, are awaiting trial on related perjury charges.

The two administrators are accused of lying to the state grand jury when they said McQueary never told them in a meeting shortly after the incident that Sandusky's alleged conduct with the boy was sexual in nature.

Curley and Schultz have denied any wrongdoing.

Sandusky's defense was built around discrediting McQueary and the alleged victims.

Defense attorneys Joe Amendola and Karl Rominger suggested that McQueary's account should not be believed because he provided inconsistent reports of the alleged shower incident to his father and a family friend and physician, Jonathan Dranov. Dranov, who was called to the McQueary home to counsel the coach shortly after the incident. He said that while McQueary appeared "shaken,'' he did not report that Sandusky was involved in a sexual act with the child.

Amendola and Rominger also have questioned the motives of some of the alleged victims who have hired lawyers. They suggested that the alleged victims were seeking a financial benefit by testifying against Sandusky while they considered potentially lucrative civil lawsuits against the coach and the university.

None of the six alleged victims who have retained attorneys, however, said they had discussed subsequent civil lawsuits.

The defense's most pointed challenge to the charges came Tuesday when they questioned Pennsylvania State Police investigators, suggesting that they coached at least one of the alleged victims to provide damaging details about his contact with Sandusky.

The investigators initially testified that they had not divulged details about their other interviews with the alleged victim. But a tape-recording of their conversation with the witness revealed that one of the investigators, Cpl. Joseph Leiter, now retired, told the witness that he was "not alone,'' and that others had provided details about oral sex and rape, involving the coach.

Under cross-examination by McGettigan, the detective said he never told the witness or other witnesses what to say or provide information that would cast Sandusky in a negative light.

Although Sandusky elected not to testify, his wife, Dottie, told jurors Tuesday that while she remembered many of her husband's alleged accusers, she never observed any inappropriate contact involving her husband.

She was preceded to the witness stand by a mix of longtime family friends and former participants in the coach's charity, who voiced support for the defendant.

(USA Today)

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