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Sandusky gets 30-to-60 year sentence for child abuse

4:42 PM, Oct 9, 2012   |    comments
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  • Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky walks into the Centre County Courthouse before being sentenced in his child sex abuse case on October 9, 2012 in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. (Getty Images)
  • Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky walks into the Centre County Courthouse before being sentenced in his child sex abuse case on October 9, 2012 in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. (Getty Images)
  • Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky walks into the Centre County Courthouse before being sentenced in his child sex abuse case on October 9, 2012 in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. (Getty Images)
  • Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky walks into the Centre County Courthouse before being sentenced in his child sex abuse case on October 9, 2012 in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. (Getty Images)
    

BELLEFONTE, Pa. (WXIA) -- Convicted child sex abuser Jerry Sandusky was sentenced Tuesday morning to a total of 30-to-60 years in prison for 45 counts of child sexual abuse involving 10 boys over a 15 year period.

Sandusky, who was defensive coordinator and for many years the presumed heir-apparent to legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, could have faced as long as 400 years for his convictions on 45 counts of child sexual abuse. But Judge John Cleland told Sandusky that at age 68, he would be in prison "for the rest of your life."

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"The crime is not only what you did to their bodies but to their psyches and their souls and the assault to the well-being of the larger community in which we all live," Cleland said.

Wearing a red prison jumpsuit and appearing notably thinner than before he was convicted in June, Sandusky was transported to Centre County Court from jail in a sheriff's patrol car shortly before the hearing. His wife, Dottie, was in attendance, as were six of his victims, who were to give statements about the impact the abuse had on their lives.

Details of what they said weren't immediately available. The hearing was still under way, and under the same rules he imposed during trial, Judge John Cleland was allowing no communication from the courtroom until the after it has concluded.

Four of Sandusky's victims and the mother of a fifth addressed the court, some of them speaking to Sandusky directly. They told of how they had looked up at Sandusky as a mentor, only to have him betray their trust.

"You were the person in my life who was supposed to be a role model, teach honor, respect and accountability, and instead you did terrible things that screwed up my life," said one of the victims, whom NBC News isn't identifying.

"You had the chance to plead guilty and spare us the testimony," he said. "Rather than take the accountability, you decided to try to attack us as if we had done something wrong."

For his part, Sandusky - as he did in a surprise audio statement Monday night on the Penn State student radio station - insisted that "I didn't do these alleged disgusting acts."

Saying he had been advised against speaking at length, Sandusky told Cleland that "as I began to relive everything, I remember my feelings. So many people were hurt, and my eyes filled with tears. It was a horrible time in life to witness, to listen to, be a part of."

Sandusky said he had "hope in my heart for a brighter day, not knowing when that day will come."

"Many moments I have spent looking for a purpose," he said. "Maybe it will help others - some vulnerable children who may have been abused may not be as a result of all the publicity - but I'm not sure about it. I would hope that it would happen.

"I would cherish the opportunity to be a little candle for others as my life goes on as they have been a huge light to me."

Sandusky maintains his innocence and plans to appeal, a process his lead attorney Joe Amendola said outside court woudl begin within ten days.

Sandusky is professing his innocence, says he is not a monster and says he didn't do the "alleged disgusting acts."

In a statement, Penn State President Rodney Erickson said: "Our thoughts today, as they have been for the last year, go out to the victims of Jerry Sandusky's abuse. While today's sentence cannot erase what has happened, hopefully it will provide comfort to those affected by these horrible events and help them continue down the road to recovery."

Sandusky's sentence comes just more than three months after a jury rendered its guilty verdicts and nearly a year after a Pennsylvania grand jury first published a gruesome catalog of crimes directly implicating the once-revered former coach.

Sandusky's court appearance marks his first trip outside protective custody at the nearby Centre County Correctional Facility where he has been held since shortly after the jury delivered its verdict June 22.

He is expected to be transferred to the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections admissions center near Harrisburg where he is slated to undergo psychological and physical evaluation before a more permanent assignment within a state system that holds 51,638 inmates, including 6,777 prisoners classified as sex offenders.

(USA Today & NBC News contributed to this report.)

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