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Sandusky Sentencing Court Notes - abc27 WHTM

Sandusky Sentencing Court Notes

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BELLEFONTE, Pa. (WHTM) -

9:00 a.m. – Court is in session. Judge John Cleland says this is a "most serious manner" and the decorum will be strictly enforced. There will be no toleration of outbursts. Cleland says that Amendola has told him that Sandusky maintains his innocence but will not present evidence against the findings that he is a sexually violent predator.

9:04 a.m. – Sandusky is sworn in and confirms what Amendola told Cleland. He stands to take the oath and then sits back down. He is sitting in a chair to the right of his council. He swivels in his chair as the proceedings continue. Joe McGettigan, the prosecutor in this case, says he has a letter from someone on the board who has said Sandusky should be classified as a sexually violent predator.

9:05 a.m. – Sandusky responds: "Yes, sir…Yes, sir," when Judge Cleland asks him about the Megan's Law paperwork given to Amendola yesterday. He said he has read it, understood it and signed it.

9:08 a.m. – Sandusky is officially deemed a sexually violent predator, as defined by Megan's Law. Cleland proceeds to read details about the law and states that Sandusky has acknowledged his obligation to register as a sex offender.

9:09 a.m. – They proceed on to the sentencing portion of the hearing.

9:10 a.m. – Joe McGettigan stands at the podium and speaks to Cleland. "No words I could utter could compare to the victim's testimony…my task is not to attempt eloquence…but to give a voice to the last words…they deserve no less." McGettigan says his task is more daunting now that Sandusky gave a radio statement calling his victim's liars. "It is an insult to…human decency." McGettigan says Sandusky has insulted human decency for years. He says Sandusky had no excuse for his behavior…he was successful, intelligent, etc… Of Sandusky's work with the Second Mile: "His goal was not to help children; it was to identify victims; it was a victim factor…he selected the  most vulnerable to prey upon." "Instead, what had found him was a predator .. consider the fear and humiliation as the hand on the shoulder became groping … too often, a penetration." McGettigan said Sandusky relied on shame to silence his victims. "He treated his victims as his sexual property to use as he saw fit and then discarded." McGettigan said  "As he goes on the radio and whines of his own pain…and he will speak, as I sit…he will claim he did not have enough time to prove his innocence…there is not time enough in the world to prove that lie." "He will say that he wished to defend himself…when he had every opportunity to do just that…he knew that he'd be unmasked if he spoke before the jury." McGettigan says Sandusky sits in the courtroom "as he smirks at those he defiled." McGettigan said the victims who are able will speak. He said some want to speak no more and he understands that.

9:15 a.m. – "I am confident to a certainly that this court will pose a sentence that does justice to this defendant as well as to his victims." McGettigan said he will not ask for a specific sentence but one that suits his crimes.  "If the words existed that would undo the harm and pain that this defendant caused, I would say them…no human being with a beating heart could be silent if the words to do that existed. But those words to not exist. My words of thanks for the courage of those men displayed will have to do in some small part. And this court's sentencing will speak to the defendant's depravity … and I will submit that the defendant's words, as he speaks [will be as the acts he committed] …deceitful, indecent and they will vanish in the wind as we hope to forget his name and those acts."  McGettigan was very eloquent. He spoke pointedly and slowly.

9:18 a.m. – Joe Amendola speaks now.  Amendola said he has explained to the Sandusky's and their family and friends that the sentencing hearing is not a time to prove innocence. "We have a gentlemen, who by many accounts of his neighbors, friends, coworkers, former football players, was  a generous, kind, giving person, who always knew he wanted to help people." Amendola said we will hear from four Sandusky children. The court has read letters from them. Amendola talks about Sandusky's adopted children. He said they raised good children, successful children.

9:21 a.m. – Amendola asks the judge to recall the character witnesses who testified for Sandusky during the trial. He said he is not trying to argue innocence or guilt but that he is presenting mitigating circumstances. Amendola said they have to accept the jury's verdict: "We have to accept that today for this purpose." But he asks the court to consider the time Sandusky spent raising money, volunteering and helping children through the Second Mile. "I think it's important that there is another side to this…there is another side to Sandusky." Amendola asks Cleland to consider that other side.

9:25 a.m. – Amendola is finished speaking. McGettigan asks to read two statements. One of them is from a victim, who is there but asked that McGettigan reads his statement. The other is from a victim's mother.

9:26 a.m. – Victim 1: "I have tried to think of the words to think of how Jerry Sandusky has impacted my life…I realize there are no words to describe the pain he has inflicted in the past, present and future. It all began by Jerry Sandusky building my trust over a long period of time…Jerry Sandusky humiliated me beyond description. I know the other victims understand. My psychologist describes it as post traumatic stress disorder…I describe it as emotional agony as I find it nearly impossible to trust anyone…I just wanted a childhood like anyone else…because of what happened…there continue to be issues in my life…Jerry Sandusky is the worse kind of pedophile: taking his status in power to take advantage…to the end, Jerry Sandusky wanted to manipulate…all the victims…to the end, there was no remorse." Victim 1 said Sandusky smirked his way through the trial.

9:28 a.m. – Victim 9's mother: Words cannot express the pain and imprint you have …not only did you heap lifelong problems on my son but you did it to serve your own selfish needs. She said Sandusky abused her son for four years; she said her son had behavior and health problem. "I blame myself and still do for your sick indulgences; but how could I have know you were molesting him…how embarrassing for me as a mom…I have had to endure two attempts by my son on his own life…I have had to endure his animosity on me…all because of what you have done to him…many nights I sit up and cry, worrying about what I did for him to be like this…not only did you molested him, you cause him a lifetime of suffering while…yourself sexually…I know question every decision I make as a parent…You have destroyed my family and I cannot forgive you for that….you have damaged and hurt so many people but yet you proclaim your innocence…Shame on you, shame on you, Mr. Sandusky for your narcissistic, selfish acts. This has been the most difficult thing I have endured in my life. My poor son….Sorrow will never mean enough. I hope whatever comes to you, I hope it is 10 fold what ….You are a horrible person…when you come to terms with this maybe, just maybe, you will be forgiven."

9:32 a.m. – Victim 6 stands before the judge. He is wearing a blue shirt. He sniffles and is crying. "I realize just how much you manipulated me into thinking you were an incredible person…My family has suffered to many years in relationship with me in the anger and rage …since you took me to "work out." I became somewhat of a social outcast because I did not know how to …that night you told me you were the tickle monster so you could touch my 11-year-old body and get me to think that what you were doing was ok…Words can simply not defend…there are so many times of confusion…and the very worst of them all, the feeling of violation…Today I can say with confidence, I will walk down this road…with Jesus holding my hand…I have not by any means arrived by I have certainly left." Victim 6 quotes scripture that talks about asking forgiveness for your sin. "I believe you are only fooling yourself as you try to speak forth your innocence…if you admit your err to God, Jesus will forgive you…if you remain in denial about your action and don't admit it to God, even if deep down you know you did it, you will not be forgiven…there is no other way. "God opposes the proud but accepts the humble."…please repent to God, there is a bigger judgment to come. Thank you."

9:36 a.m. – Victim 5: "Jerry Sandusky lured me into a Penn State sauna and then into a shower, he then forcibly had me touch him…I realize later in life that was sexual assault…I am troubled by flashbacks of his naked body…for years I have been struggling with anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder, depressions, sleeplessness…and guilt, worst of all, I isolated my…from those I loved most…When I was subpoenaed for the grand jury, I realized I was not alone…it has been a trail from police knocking on my door…and to your honor's courtroom twice." He sniffles. "It has been a difficult road to travel but one that is necessary, an obligation of citizenship…I will never forget the naked images of his body ... but he must pay for his crimes which he has now been properly convicted of. I ask that when your honor sentences Mr. Sandusky you take into account…the tears, pain and private anguish I and other have suffered. It is real, it is painful, it will be inside me forever…thank you your honor for understanding that Sandusky abused children, of which I am one. "He took away my childhood. He should be sentenced accordingly."

9:39 a.m. – Victim 4: "You were the person in my life who was supposed to be a role model…instead you have done terrible things. I cannot explain how this has screwed up my life … you had the chance to plead guilty….instead, you tried to attack us as if we had done something wrong…you have no morals …and allowed your lawyer to try to discredit my testimony that both you and I knew were true…I want you to know I did not forgive you…I will not allow my own child out of my sight for fear of what happened to him…while I stand here today, telling you I don't forgive you, I ask that other who have been abused will forgive me for not coming forward sooner. Thank you, your honor."

9:41 a.m. – Sandusky stands at the podium and faces the judge. He speaks: "I am grateful for the opportunity to speak today. I feel the need to talk, not from arrogance but from my heart. There is so much that I would want to say. I have been advised not to say. I am filled with mention. I am filled with determination. I did not do these alleged disgusting acts. I speak today, from my heart, hoping for a brighter day, not knowing this day would come…this was the worse lost of my life, but certainly not the first….please don't close the book today…as I began to relive…it was a horrible time in life to witness, to listen to, to be a part of…many moments have been spent looking for a purpose. Maybe it will help others, some vulnerable children, who may have been abused might not be abused because of all the publicity….hopefully we can get better as a result of our hardship and suffering…that somehow, someway, something good will come out of this. The pain continues as I think about those who made the allegations….I used to think about ways to praise them…to improve their self-esteem…these are things that worked for so many others in the course of my lifetime. Life has become difficult for us. For the most part, I have been confined to a small room, I read, meditate, exercise…all in that small room. Occasionally there are outbursts and my experiences with the Second Mile help me."

Sandusky said he celebrated his wedding anniversary there. He said he woke up thinking he would get to hug his wife, instead he hit his head on the cinder block wall. "Who will stand by you, who will get you through the hurt and pain to get you where you want to go…her and others are standing strong. I like to believe that they know me the most…not for who I have been portrayed as. We will continue to fight. There is much to fight. You don't have to look very far to see all the vested factions…those who still believe in us still matter. There is a lot darkness in that room. I think of not being with her, not being there for our children, not being there to see our grandchildren mature…not playing games with family and friends, not being there to help people…laughing less, maybe crying a little more….'it doesn't matter what you look at, it's what you see.' I look at those walls….I see letters of support, I see great memories…I see family and friends; I see those who overcame big obstacles…I see the people who have stood by me…I see my throwing thousands of kids up in the air, hundreds of water balloon battles, happy times, people laughing with us…I see kids laughing and playing and I see a lovable dog licking their faces." Sandusky now reads a card from a former Second Mile participant: 'You have impacted my life in so many ways; there were so many times growing up I wanted to give up, but I didn't because I wanted to make you proud….you being Jerry and my best friends. There are no words I could ever say to tell you thank you…I will continue to stand by you and comfort you….I love you.' "Others can take my life, they can make me out as a monster…but they cannot take away my heart, and in my heard I know I did not do those disgusting, alleged acts." Sandusky said Dottier has been his only sex partner and that has been after marriage. He said their love continues. "This experience helps me realize how temporary life is and that we're just briefly passing through." Sandusky said he enjoyed being different, teaching and coaching. "I tried to bring joy…I tried to bring learning." Sandusky talks about the different videos he made for the Second Mile. He quotes Seabiscuit, a movie he said he loves. He made a video about it for the Second Mile….today is a difficult day. I am being labeled and sentenced…I have read many books" about people who endured hardship and persecution. He said these books certainly puts his struggles in perspective. "I've been blessed; I've been to the mountaintop; I have seen the valley of the shadow of death; I have been in a locker room, hugging and crying out of joy as national champs…I have enjoyed relationships with family and friends. I have enjoyed life's simple pleasures…I've visited Second Mile people in prisons and now I stay in one…I have been in ghettos and trailer parks, seeking and trying to find Second Mile kids…I have wiped away a first tear and I have seen lives end. I've laughed with patients in hospitals and nursing homes and I've walked away in tears…I've been kissed by dogs, I've been bit by dogs. I've sung at football camp and I've yelled at football camp….I've been a fighter. I've conformed. I've also been different. I've been me….I've been loved; I've been hated….and I've lived long enough to cherish many memories….and I have a card in my room with the word hope on it. I cling to that card….We ‘re going to laugh. We're going to cry. Because that's who we are…the most difficult part of this experience…some of the labeling and treatment hurt, but they don't compare to their absence." Sandusky begins crying. "It would be unbearable without some contact…without some hurt. As our grandson Brady learned from his preschool teacher…you get a crinkly heart when you're mean to others and you get a big heart when you're nice…it would be unmanageable without God's light…that matters the most anyways, I guess…probably the greatest purpose of this whole thing."

9:57 a.m. – Judge Cleland asks Sandusky and his lawyers to stand at the podium. One lawyer approaches the bench.  Cleland said it is important that there is a clear understanding of what Sandusky is being sentenced for. "A jury of your peers has determined that you're guilty of 45 separate charges." Cleland said the sentence is based only on the facts presented in open court. He said Sandusky has received all the benefits of due process. Cleland said he read a letter from Sandusky and a letter from Mrs. Sandusky. "I think it cannot be disputed that you have done much positive work…," Cleland said. "It is perhaps the most ultimate tragedy…have continued to conceal the very vices that have lead to your downfall…it is precisely that ability to conceal those vices from yourself and from everyone else that makes you so dangerous….these are not crimes committed against strangers…the crimes is not only what you did to their bodies, your assault is also what you did to their psyches and their soul….and your assault to the larger community in which we all live….there is a lesson in our communities in all this. It is that we must be vigilant that there are not those among us that can harm them….as far as pedophiles are concerned, it is often that, as you were, they were trusted community figures." Cleland said it is difficult for the average person to understand why pedophiles are not readily caught and identified. He said it is because pedophiles have a "remarkable ability to deceive." Cleland said it might be easy for those who have never encountered a pedophile to understand how people did not see the behavior. "The most obvious aspect of the betrayal, of course, is the betrayal of those 10 children…but it is my experience…that some victims of these kinds of crimes feel that somehow that by testifying against you they have betrayed you….some have had their innocence taken…their loyalties tested…their lives have been irrevocably altered….all of them have come here looking for justice…has justice been done?...we must first define what we mean when we say justice." Cleland said some people think justice is a result that they agree with. "But a moment's reflection shows that justice is a much more complicated …the fact that you were assaulted is no cause for embarrassment or shame…his conduct was no fault of your own…as adults you have now come forward to hold him accountable…and it is for your courage, and not for your assault that you will be remembered…" Cleland said he has considered the sentencing guidelines and the impact they have had on the community. Cleland said there is no place in the law for a sentence to be an expression of vengeance. Cleland said he has carefully read and listened to statements, including Sandusky's broadcast statement of last night. "like all conspiracy theories, it flows from the undeniable to the unbelievable…"

10:07 a.m. – Cleland said his sentence should be considered as a whole. He said some sentences will be served congruent, etc…but that does not mean any crimes are worse, etc… "I will now impose the sentence…I will not sentence you to centuries in prison, though the law would permit that." Cleland said talking about decades in prison is too abstract. "You are sentenced to spend not less than 30 years and not more than 60 years in prison…that has the unmistakable impact of meaning the rest of your life."

"The sentence of the court is that you Gerald A. Sandusky…for an aggregate term of not less than 30 years and not more than 60 years …credit for time served of 112 days."

Cleland then went through each charge giving a minimum and maximum. Cleland said all sentences are within the standard range. Sandusky was given credit for days served in December. "It is further ordered that you pay the cost of the prosecution." Sandusky must also pay restitution costs as set forth by law. Sandusky will stay in Center County for the next 10 days and will then be transferred to Camp Hill. He must submit a DNA sample, fingerprints, photos, etc….and pay the standard amount for those.  

Cleland said the convictions for Victim 8 should be served concurrently. Should they be overturned on appeal, there will be no need for a resentencing. Cleland reads Sandusky's rights: he has the right to appeal. If he is unable to pay for a lawyer, he can request one for his appeals. Cleland gives details of appeals and post-sentence motions.

Sandusky stands at the podium as his sentence is read. His dark orange jump suit says "Centre County" on the back of it. He stands to the right of Amendola.

10:22 a.m. The court is adjourned.

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