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Question of the Day
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Jerry Sandusky should be sent to prison for life when a judge sentences him Tuesday, according to several of the jurors who convicted the former Penn State assistant coach of molesting several boys over a period of years.
None of the jurors interviewed by the Associated Press said they have had second thoughts about their June verdict, and several plan to attend the sentencing.
“There isn’t a sentence that I believe is harsh enough for what he has done and how it has affected the university,” said Joan Andrews, a juror who has worked for Penn State for 41 years and held football season tickets since 1969. “I don’t think there’s been one individual in this entire campus that has not been affected by this.”
Four jurors said they plan to be in the courtroom when Sandusky, 68, learns the penalty for sexually abusing boys he met through a charity for at-risk children. Sandusky’s own attorney expects his client to be handed a long sentence from Judge John Cleland after conviction on 45 counts.
Although a list of jurors has not been released by the judge, the AP was able to contact five of them. They said they recently received a letter from the court informing them about the sentencing and offering to have a court official meet them outside the courthouse.
A court system spokesman said the jurors are guaranteed a seat but won’t necessarily be sitting together.
Only one of the five, retired Penn State soil sciences professor Daniel D. Fritton, said he would not attend.
“I’d just like to stay out of the limelight, for one thing,” Mr. Fritton said. “I figure I could read in the paper what happens.”
Gayle Barnes, a homemaker and former school district employee, said she thinks a lot about the victims, particularly the eight who testified against Sandusky and provided what she considers the critical evidence of guilt. She said he deserves life in prison.
“I do still feel good, what we as jurors did,” Ms. Barnes said. “I didn’t go there saying off the bat he’s guilty. I needed to listen to every single thing that was said.”
Ms. Barnes said she has been in touch with a fifth juror and an alternate juror who also plan to attend the sentencing.
High school science teacher Joshua Harper, who has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Penn State, said that he takes pride in having served on the jury,and that the guilty verdict was not a close call. He wants Sandusky “put away for the rest of his life, really.”
“This is what prisons are for, you know,” Mr. Harper said. “I mean, I don’t think you let a guy loose like that.”
He also felt the victim testimony was pivotal.
“It was such a consistent pattern of behavior,” Mr. Harper said. “It was just so solid. The defense was just so thin. There was no evidence that these kids were lying. Even the minor inconsistencies that the defense tried to bring up — and did bring up — that made it more convincing.”
Through a relative, juror Ann T. Van Kuren said she also plans to attend.
Ms. Barnes and Mr. Harper both said they hoped to learn more about what Penn State officials did or did not do in 1998 and 2001 after getting complaints about Sandusky showering with boys. That was a major theme of the report issued to Penn State this summer by Louis Freeh, the former FBI director, and is likely also to arise during civil litigation by Sandusky’s victims against the university.
“We don’t know the whole story to this whole thing yet,” said Ms. Barnes, a Nittany Lions fan who felt so strongly that Joe Paterno’s statue should remain in place that she went to the scene outside Beaver Stadium the day it was removed in July, about a month after the verdict. “I just felt like they jumped ship, they didn’t do the right thing, that they needed more information. What’s going to happen if Curley and Schultz are found not guilty?”
Tim Curley, the school’s athletic director on leave, and Gary Schultz, a retired vice president, are awaiting trial on charges they did not properly report suspected abuse and lied to the grand jury that investigated Sandusky. Paterno, the school’s Hall of Fame coach, was fired after Sandusky was arrested in November and died of lung cancer in January.
“I don’t know what to think about Curley and Schultz,” she said. “I think Joe Paterno was and is and has been falsely accused of many things. I don’t think the man was informed of the detail for him to understand how serious this was.”
Sandusky’s sentencing on Tuesday will begin with Judge Cleland determining whether he qualifies as a sexually violent predator, a status that would require lifetime registration if he is ever paroled.
By Matt Kibbe
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