BELLEFONTE, Pa.—Jerry Sandusky was sentenced to no less than 30 years but no more than 60 years in prison after being found guilty on 45 counts of sexual abuse in June.
The sentence, which was handed down by Pennsylvania Common Pleas Court Judge John M. Cleland, will effectively keep Sandusky behind bars until he dies. Before the sentence was announced, Cleland told Sandusky that he would not sentence the former Penn State assistant football coach to "centuries in prison," because it would be "too abstract to have any practical meaning."
Afterward, Sandusky's assistant defense attorney Karl Rominger called it "effectively a life sentence."
Lead defense attorney Joe Amendola said in a press conference afterwards that he plans to appeal the sentence, believing that Sandusky's legal team did not have enough time to prepare for the trial. The trial started 8 months after a grand jury issued the charges against Sandusky.
"We believe that if we had the time, that we would have had an opportunity to prove Jerry's innocence," Amendola said.
In June, Sandusky was found guilty on 45 of 48 charges, including 8 counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, 7 counts of indecent assault, 9 counts of unlawful conduct with minors, 10 counts of corruption of a minor, 10 counts of endangering the welfare of a child, and one count of intent to commit indecent assault.
In a packed courtroom, a number of victims either had a statement read by prosecutors or confronted Sandusky face to face. A few victims broke down during their statements, speaking about how they have been riddled with torment due to Sandusky's actions, with a number of victims claiming they suffer from PTSD, anxiety, and depression.
"You were supposed to teach me things like honor, respect, and accountability, " said Victim 4, reading a statement while Sandusky sat close by. "Rather than take accountability for your actions, you decided to attack us as if we did something wrong. You should be ashamed of yourself. I want you to know that I don't forgive you, and I don't know if I ever will."
"I have been left with deep painful wounds that have been buried in the garden of my heart for years," said another victim. "It's time to stop coming up with excuses for your behavior."
The "excuses" victims referred to Tuesday came in response to a statement released Monday by Sandusky.
A three-minute statement was posted to Penn State's ComRadio Monday, in which Sandusky claimed his innocence.
"They can take away my life, they can make me out as a monster, they can treat me as a monster, but they can't take away my heart," he said. "In my heart, I know I did not do these alleged disgusting acts. My wife has been my only sex partner, and that was after marriage."
Before the sentence was read Tuesday, Sandusky, dressed in a red correctional facility jumpsuit, spoke for about 20 minutes about his claim of innocence, his family, his career as defensive coordinator for Penn State University, and his time spent at the head of the Second Mile charity.
"We have tried to endure, to hold our heads up, to cling to what we have," Sandusky said.
He also read a card from an anonymous well wisher that he received during his time in prison.
"You impacted my life in so many ways, you were my life line, there were so many ways I wanted to give up, but I wanted to make you proud," Sandusky read from the card. "There isn't a day I don't think of you and your family. In my eyes you are always 'Touchdown Jerry.'"
Sandusky also meandered at times, comparing his current situation to football, the one entity that used to solely define his existence.
"We are definitely in the fourth quarter, and you figure out who is with you in the fourth quarter, who will stand by you," he said.
Sandusky at one point started to cry after speaking about his family, particularly about his wife and grandson, calling it "unbearable" to be away from them.
Updated at 12:38 p.m.