BELLEFONTE, Pa. (AP) — For years, the children Jerry Sandusky had preyed upon kept quiet about what the former Penn State assistant football coach did to them in echoing shower stalls, empty hotel rooms and the muffled confines of his basement bedroom.
Late Friday, after a swift trial and less than two days of deliberations, a jury issued an emphatic verdict: Sandusky was guilty on 45 counts of sexual abuse, meaning the man once considered a successor to coach Joe Paterno will likely die in prison.
The verdict is not the end of the scandal that took down Paterno and deeply shook the state’s most prominent university. It will play out for years in courtrooms and through a set of ongoing investigations.
But the trial did present one piece of finality: Sandusky was taken away in handcuffs to the county jail. Sentencing will be in about three months, but mandatory minimums will keep him behind bars for life.
“One of the recurring themes in this case was, ‘Who would believe a kid?’” Attorney General Linda Kelly said. “The answer is, we in Bellefonte, Pa., would believe a kid.”
There were only three acquittals among the charges related to 10 victims, eight of whom took the stand to describe fondling, forced oral sex and anal rape. Many of the accusers testified that they had told no one of the abuse that dated as far back as the mid-1990s — not parents, not girlfriends and not police.
The accuser known in court papers as Victim 6, whose mother alerted authorities in 1998 after Sandusky took her son into a shower, broke down in tears upon hearing the verdicts in the courtroom. Afterward, a prosecutor embraced him and said, “Did I ever lie to you?”
The man, now 25, testified that Sandusky called himself the “tickle monster” in a shower assault. He declined to comment to a reporter afterward. His mother said: “Nobody wins. We’ve all lost.”
One of the three counts for which Sandusky was acquitted concerned Victim 6, an indecent assault charge. The man testified that Sandusky had given him a bear hug in the shower but at one point he just “blacked out.”
The other acquittals were an indecent assault charge related to Victim 5, who said Sandusky fondled him in the shower, and an involuntary deviate sexual intercourse charge regarding Victim 2, the boy graduate assistant Mike McQueary saw being attacked in a campus shower.
Almost immediately after the judge adjourned, loud cheers could be heard from a couple hundred people gathered outside the courthouse as word quickly spread that Sandusky had been convicted. The crowd included victim advocates and local residents with their kids. Many held up their smartphones to take pictures as people filtered out of the building.
As Sandusky was placed in the cruiser to be taken to jail, someone yelled at him to “rot in hell!” Others hurled insults and he shook his head no in response.
Defense attorney Joe Amendola was interrupted by cheers from the crowd on the courthouse steps when he said, “The sentence that Jerry will receive will be a life sentence.”
In addition to the eight who testified, there were two yet-unidentified victims for whom prosecutors relied on testimony from a university janitor and McQueary, whose account of a sexual encounter between Sandusky and a boy of about 10 years old ultimately led to the Paterno’s dismissal and the university president’s ouster.