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Sunday
Feb102013

Jerry Sandusky Scandal: Paterno Family Releases Critique of Freeh Report

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The Paterno family is fighting to restore the legacy of former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, flatly denying the allegations in the report by former FBI Director Louis Freeh that the legendary coach was complicit in a cover-up of child sexual abuse by a former assistant coach.

"The Critique of the Freeh Report: The Rush to Injustice Regarding Joe Paterno," the report prepared by King & Spalding and released on paterno.com this morning, is described as an attempt to set the record straight with independent expert analysis examining the "most glaring errors on which the Freeh report is based."

"The Freeh report reflects an improper 'rush to injustice,'" the 238-page critique says. "There is no evidence that Joe Paterno deliberately covered up known incidents of child molestation by Jerry Sandusky to protect Penn State football or for any other reason; the contrary statements in the Freeh report are unsupported and unworthy of belief."

According to the critique, the Freeh report "uncovers little new factual information as to Joe Paterno and does very little to advance the truth regarding his knowledge, or more accurately lack of knowledge, of Jerry Sandusky's molestation of children."

Former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was sentenced last year to 30 to 60 years in prison after he was convicted of 45 criminal counts of sexually abusing young boys.

In the wake of the Sandusky scandal, Joe Paterno, who coached the Nittany Lions for 46 years and became the winningest coach in Division 1 football history in 2011, was dismissed.

The allegations of Paterno's involvment came as a shock that reverberated beyond the Penn State campus, because of his reputation as a coach who valued character as much as winning.

Following his dismissal, Paterno was diagnosed with lung cancer and broke his hip. He died on Jan. 22, 2012, at the age of 85.

Former Penn State University President Graham Spanier, along with Penn State athletic director Tim Curley, and school vice president Gary Schultz are awaiting a hearing after they were accused of lying and concealing the sex abuse allegations against Sandusky.

Freeh Report Critique

Released in July, the 267-page report by former FBI Director Louis Freeh concluded that Joe Paterno and his superiors valued the football program and the image of Penn State more than they valued the safety of Sandusky's victims.

In the report, Freeh said the university had a "culture of reverence" for the football team "ingrained at all levels of the campus community."

"The motivation [was] to avoid the consequences of bad publicity," Freeh said at the time. "Bad publicity has consequences for the brand of Penn State University, the reputation of coaches, the ability to do fundraising. It's got huge implications."

At the time of the release, the Paterno family criticized the Freeh report and its portrayal of Joe Paterno, saying that the investigation was neither fair nor complete.

In their critique of the Freeh report, former U.S. Attorney General Dick Thornburgh and experts Jim Clemente and Fred Berlin examined the Freeh report and found that the report is "deeply flawed and that key conclusions regarding Joe Paterno are unsubstantiated and unfair."

Some of the key points of the 34-page report include:

  •  Joe Paterno's last written words before he died focused on Sandusky's victims. "Good side of scandal -- it has brought about more enlightenment of a situation (sexual abuse of young people) in the country," Joe Paterno wrote in a handwritten note.
  •  Freeh report's observations about Joe Paterno are incorrect: "each is either contradicted or unsubstantiated by the evidence."
  •  Based on documents, testimony, and access to attorneys for Penn State administrators, Joe Paterno "never asked or told anyone not to investigate fully the allegations in 2001," never asked or told anyone, including Dr. Spanier and Messrs. Curley and Schultz, not to report the 2001 incident," ... "never asked or told anyone not to discuss or to hide in any way the information reported by Mr. McQueary," and Joe Paterno "reported the information to his superior(s) pursuant to his understanding of University protocol and relied upon them to investigate and report as appropriate."
  •  Sandusky was a "'skilled and masterful manipulator,' who deceived an entire community to obscure the signs of child abuse, using a variety of proven techniques," according to expert analysis.
  •  The Freeh report was "oversold to the public," according to the critique, which said it became the source that "Penn State officials, the NCAA, and other bodies detrimentally relied on in a rush to judgment about Joe Paterno."
  •  The Freeh report did not allow "any meaningful opportunity for Joe Paterno, his representatives, or any neutral third party to assess or even respond to Mr. Freeh's opinions before he announced them as proven at a national press conference," the critique said.


Sue Paterno's Response

Sue Paterno, the wife of Joe Paterno, said in a letter to former Penn State players Friday that after the Freeh report was released she "knew immediately that the situation demanded further review."

"Unfortunately, the Board's response was to panic again. They embraced the report without reviewing it. They never met with Mr. Freeh or his investigators. They asked no questions and challenged no assertions," Sue Paterno wrote in the letter Friday. "Although they never officially voted to accept the report, they endorsed its findings and allowed the NCAA to impose unprecedented sanctions. To claim that this ill-considered and rash process served the victims and the university is a grave error. Only the truth serves the victims. Only the truth can help prevent this sort of crime from occurring again."

Freeh's Response to the Critique of the Report

After the critique of the report was posted, Freeh said he respected "the right of the Paterno family to hire private lawyers and former government officials to conduct public media campaigns in an effort to shape the legacy of Joe Paterno."

"However, the self-serving report the Paterno family has issued today does not change the facts established in the Freeh Report or alter the conclusions reached in the Freeh Report," Freeh said in a statement.

Freeh challenged several points in the critique, including the criticism that investigators did not speak to Paterno.

"During the investigation, we contacted Mr. Paterno's attorney in an attempt to interview Mr. Paterno. Although Mr. Paterno was willing to speak with a news reporter and his biographer at that time, he elected not to speak with us. We also asked Mr. Paterno's attorney to provide us with any evidence that he and his client felt should be considered. The documents provided were included in our report," Freeh said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Feb102013

Jerry Sandusky Scandal: Sue Paterno to Respond to Freeh Report

Rob Carr/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Sue Paterno, the wife of the late Penn State coach Joe Paterno, and her attorney Wick Sollers are set to release their own findings about the report by former FBI Director Louis Freeh on the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal that rocked the school's legendary football program.

"There have been many times, of course, when I wanted to speak out, but I needed time to deal with the loss of Joe and I believed also that this was a situation that demanded careful, thoughtful, objective analysis," Sue Paterno wrote in a letter to former Penn State players Friday. "The last thing Joe would have wanted is for me to become just one more voice making claims and assertions that were unsupported by the facts."

In a letter released Friday, Sue Paterno said the report, which was prepared by her attorney Wick Sollers, will be available along with additional information online at paterno.com.

"I am here to tell you as definitively and forcefully as I know how that Mr. Freeh could not have been more wrong in his assessment of Joe," Paterno wrote in the letter.

Former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was sentenced last year to 30 to 60 years in prison after he was convicted of 45 criminal counts of sexually abusing young boys.

Sue Paterno said she was horrified and was in disbelief when she was first told of the allegations against Sandusky.

"These are children. Our lives have been about children.We have five children, 17 grandchildren. We worked around the players. Our lives are about children and making them better and not hurting them. So it's vile. It's probably the best word I could think of," Sue Paterno told ABC News' Katie Couric on her talk show "Katie."

In the wake of the Sandusky scandal, Joe Paterno, who coached the Nittany Lions for 46 years and became the winningest coach in Division 1 football history in 2011, was dismissed. Folllowing his dismissal, he was diagnosed with lung cancer and broke his hip. He died on Jan. 22, 2012, at the age of 85.

Released in July, the 267-page report by Freeh concluded that Joe Paterno and his superiors valued the football program and the image of Penn State more than they valued the safety of Sandusky's victims.

In the report, Freeh said the university had a "culture of reverence" for the football team "ingrained at all levels of the campus community."

"The motivation [was] to avoid the consequences of bad publicity," Freeh said at the time. "Bad publicity has consequences for the brand of Penn State University, the reputation of coaches, the ability to do fundraising. It's got huge implications."

At the time of the release, the Paterno family criticized the Freeh report and its portrayal of Joe Paterno, saying that the investigation was neither fair nor complete.

Sue Paterno’s response to the report and the Sandusky scandal are expected to confirm her "beliefs about Joe's conduct" during the situation and present "a passionate and persuasive critique of the Freeh report as a total disservice to the victims of Sandusky and the cause of preventing child sex offenses."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct192012

Sandusky Victim 1 Steps Out of Shadows, Says Justice Took Too Long

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- He was known only as Victim 1 in one of the most infamous child sexual abuse cases in history.  But this week, Aaron Fisher revealed his identity to the world and, in an exclusive interview with 20/20's Chris Cuomo, told the story of those he said stood in his way as he struggled to bring now-convicted child predator Jerry Sandusky to justice: officials at his own high school.

"Here I am, beside my mom, crying, telling them and they don't believe me," he said in an interview with Cuomo airing on 20/20 Friday night at 10 p.m. ET.  "I knew they wouldn't."

Fisher has detailed his struggle to have his allegations against Sandusky, formerly a revered Penn State University football coach, taken seriously in a new book, Silent No More: Victim 1's Fight for Justice Against Jerry Sandusky, published on Friday.

He was 11 when he met Jerry Sandusky in the summer of 2005.  Fisher was selected to attend a summer camp run by Sandusky's charity organization for disadvantaged children, The Second Mile, on Penn State's campus.

Fisher said Sandusky immediately took a special interest in him.  He encouraged Fisher's athletic interests, taking him to both college and pro sports events.

"We sat in box seats," said Fisher.  "He was just kind of like a giant stuffed teddy bear.  He seemed like the all-natural father figure -- something that most kids wished their dads did."

Fisher came from a struggling family and didn't have a father at home.  Dawn Daniels, Fisher's mother, recalled the times Sandusky took the boy away for the weekend to give her a break.

"Everybody knew who he was," said Daniels.  "He's a great guy.  Everybody, even my own father, said he does great things for kids."

Sandusky's reputation had preceded him and put Daniels at ease as far as allowing her son to spend so much time with Sandusky.  But according to Fisher, Sandusky slowly turned from a "father figure" into something much darker.

"He'd put his hand on my leg while we were driving," Fisher said.  "My family never did that, so it was kind of weird."

By the time Fisher was 12, Sandusky was sexually assaulting him.  Fisher said fear, shame and confusion prevented him from seeking help and telling anyone about his tormentor.

"There were so many emotions and thoughts running through my head," he said.  "Being a kid, you never know what to do, and you don't know who to tell because you don't know who you can trust."

Fisher said Sandusky began seeking him out at his own high school, Central Mountain High School in Lock Haven, Pa.  Sandusky was a volunteer football coach there and would pull him out of class, with school officials' blessing.

Daniels said the school never notified her about all of the classes her son missed because of Sandusky and Fisher said no teacher or administrator ever questioned Sandusky's motives.

It grew to be too much and Fisher said he tried to do everything in his power to stay away from the ex-Penn State coach, sometimes hiding in school bathrooms rather to avoid meeting with Sandusky.  But Sandusky only grew more aggressive, Fisher said.

By the time Fisher was 15, he reached a breaking point and finally summoned the courage to tell his mother and the school's principal, Karen Probst, that Sandusky was sexually abusing him.  But the mother and son say they were shocked by the principal's response.

"They said that Jerry has a heart of gold and that he wouldn't do those type of things," Daniels said.  "They tell me to go home and think about it."

Daniels did not follow their advice.  Instead she says she told Probst that she would be notifying Clinton County Children and Youth Services of the allegations directly.

Daniels and Fisher later learned that Central Mountain High School officials did call CYS, but they say the call only came after the mother and son left the principal's office.  School officials are legally mandated to report all allegations of child sex abuse and have said that the allegations were reported immediately.

For Fisher, the initial suggestion that those meant to protect him did not believe his story was crushing.

Clinton County CYS psychologist Michael Gillum was one of the first to handle Fisher's case.

"It was obvious to me immediately that he was upset, that something had, in fact, happened to him," Gillum told 20/20.

Gillum said he was shocked by the claim that Central Mountain's principal, Probst, had told Fisher and Daniels to go home.

When confronted outside the school by 20/20, both Probst and football coach Steve Turchetta -- who pulled Fisher out of his classes for meetings with Sandusky -- declined to answer questions.  In grand jury testimony, Turchetta said that he took kids out of class for those meetings even though he developed suspicions about the relationships.

Much to Fisher's dismay, coming forward with the allegations was only the beginning of a long battle to bring Sandusky to justice.

Sandusky was interviewed by CYS, but he laughed off the allegations, painting Fisher as a troubled kid, Gillum said.

Meanwhile, the police made Fisher retell his story four times over the course of three years.  He was forced to go before two grand juries.  Yet still, the attorney general prosecuting the case said authorities needed more victims to charge Sandusky.

Finally, in 2011, there was a break in the case.  Allegations surfaced from a Penn State coach, Mike McQueary, that he had witnessed Sandusky molesting a boy in a university locker room years earlier.

On Nov. 5, 2011, just before Fisher's 18th birthday, Jerry Sandusky was arrested following an indictment by a grand jury on more than 40 counts of child sexual abuse.  In June 2012, Sandusky was tried and convicted on 45 of 48 counts.  He was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison, a virtual life sentence for the 68-year-old man.

"I wasn't expecting it," Fisher said, "I was kind of thinking that he'd get off scot-free with this."

Though the conviction was a victory, Sandusky was not the only adult who Fisher felt betrayed his trust.  Fisher still has questions for the teachers and administrators at his high school.

"It's a fact that I lost a good portion of my childhood," he said.  "I endured heartaches and numerous amounts of people who didn't believe me and walked away from me."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct182012

Lawyer Calls Sandusky's Alleged Victim 2 a 'Charlatan'

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- An attorney for one of the Penn State officials arrested in the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse case says that a man claiming to be Sandusky's Victim 2 is a fraud and a "charlatan."

The identity of the man called Victim 2 by prosecutors has remained a mystery throughout the trial of the former Penn State coach. According to prosecutors and the grand jury report, he is the boy whom Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary saw being molested and possibly raped by Sandusky in a shower in 2001.

University officials Gary Schultz and Tim Curley were both charged criminally with failing to report that incident to authorities, though they both maintain that they did not know of a rape allegation from that night.

Schultz's attorney released a statement Wednesday saying the man who has come forward claiming to be Victim 2 is not credible. He released the statement in response to a Harrisburg Patriot News story about Victim 2's credibility.

"Discovery provided to us shows that the individual's story changed from interview to interview and even conflicted with the version of events his own attorneys described," attorney Tom Farrell wrote.

Judge John Cleland, who oversaw the case, will rule on the appeal. If Sandusky is denied an appeal, his case can go to appellate court. Sandusky's attorneys are expected to argue they did not have enough time to prepare for trial and to prove that Sandusky's victims were lying.

In Farrell's statement, he accused Victim 2 of claiming first that he had never been sexually abused by Sandusky and then changing his story after becoming a client of attorney Andrew Shubin.

According to the statement released by Farrell, the man first came forward to prosecutors just days after Sandusky was arrested in November 2011, and said he was Victim 2. He said he was not abused in the shower the night McQueary saw him, or ever.

The man then changed his story and told investigators he had been abused, Farrell said. Farrell also claimed that when the man was asked to draw a diagram of the locker room in which he was allegedly raped, he failed to draw it accurately.

"When requested to diagram the Lasch building locker room and shower, the individual created a drawing that did not match reality," Farrell wrote.

He pointed out that prosecutors had interviewed the man four times and decided not to put him on the stand in Sandusky's trial.

Shubin's law firm, Ross Feller Casey, LLP, released a statement Thursday standing by its client and criticizing Farrell's claims.

"Conspicuously absent from Mr. Farrell's statement is the fact that Jerry Sandusky himself, and his defense team, identified our client, and no one else on earth, as the boy who Mike McQueary saw in the shower with Jerry Sandusky," the statement read. "The identity of the boy in the shower is not now nor has it ever been in doubt. The horrific abuse that he suffered both that day and on many other days will be the subject of a lawsuit that he files against Penn State."

The statement said Victim 2's initial denials of sexual abuse were commonplace for sexual abuse victims.

"While Mr. Farrell threw his lot in with Jerry Sandusky, he should think very carefully before he decides to publish any additional attacks on our client," the statement read.

The individual has never made his identity public, but in July released audio recordings he claimed were Sandusky's voicemails to him. The recordings included a man's voice saying "I love you" to the person on the other end. He claimed that he had been abused before and after the 2001 incident by Sandusky.

"A court order prohibits the attorneys in the Sandusky case and in our case from revealing the identity of this individual," Farrell wrote. "However, all the attorneys -- defense lawyers and prosecutors -- are aware of this individual's identity and have evaluated his credibility, or lack thereof, appropriately, as evidenced by the fact that all parties to the Sandusky trial declined to call him as a witness."

Schultz and Curley are both scheduled to be tried in January.

Sandusky, a former Penn State football coach, was convicted earlier this year of abusing 10 boys, and was sentenced last week to a minimum of 30 years in prison. For Sandusky, 68, that is a life term.

Sandusky's defense team announced plans Thursday to appeal his convictions. Attorney Karl Rominger said that the motion to appeal would be filed by the end of the day.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct112012

Jerry Sandusky's Wife Says Adopted Son 'Full of Lies'

Rob Carr/Getty Images(BELLEFONTE, Pa.) -- Before Jerry Sandusky was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison, his wife wrote an indignant letter to the judge criticizing her husband's accusers, particularly their adopted son Matt.

"As far as our son Matt goes, people need to know what kind of person he is," Dottie Sandusky wrote in a letter to Judge John Cleland ahead of sentencing.

Dottie Sandusky was referring to Matt Sandusky, who was adopted by the couple when he was a teenager and who, in the middle of his adoptive father's sex abuse trial, told prosecutors that he too had been molested.

"We have forgiven him many times for all he has done to our family thinking that he was changing his life, but he would always go back to his stealing and lies," Mrs. Sandusky wrote.

Matt Sandusky, one of six children adopted by the couple, defended his father during the investigation, but abruptly changed his statement and offered to testify against his adoptive dad once the trial began.

Dottie claimed that their youngest son, Matt, was bipolar, has had multiple run-ins with the law, and has stolen money from the Sandusky family, though she said she still loves him. Matt Sandusky was not able to be reached for comment.

Mrs. Sandusky's letter as well as a letter written by Jerry Sandusky were written as part of an appeal for leniency by the Sandusky family ahead of sentencing on Tuesday. Jerry Sandusky read a version of his statement aloud in court, as did some of his victims, who recounted their emotional trauma resulting from Sandusky's abuse.

Despite the Sandusky's letters, Cleland ordered Sandusky to prison for 30 to 60 years, tantamount to a life sentence for the 68-year-old former Penn State football coach.

Jerry Sandusky's two-and-a-half page statement, which closely resembled his oral statement in court, outlined a conspiracy Sandusky saw being orchestrated among his victims, the victims' parents, the police, court system, and media.

"First, I looked at me, my vulnerability, my naivety [sic] (some say stupidity) and my trust in people," he wrote. "There were so many people involved in the orchestration of this conviction (media, investigators, prosecutors, 'the system,' Penn State, and the accused)," he wrote. "It was well done. They won!"

Sandusky afforded extra attention to the victims' parents, whom he saw as the real cause of his victims' emotional and behavioral problems.

"I have been blamed for all of (the victims') failures and shortcomings, but nobody mentioned the impact of the people who spent much more time with them than I did. Nobody mentioned the impact of abandonment, neglect, abuse, insecurity, and conflicting messages that the biological parents might have had in this," he said.

Sandusky said in his letter that he had found inspiration in books about persecution, including that of a Rwandan genocide survivor. He compared himself to David in the biblical tale of David and Goliath, and said he failed to pick up a sling shot to fight the bigger Goliath.

Sandusky and his victims read statements in court ahead of the sentencing decision, while letters by Dottie and other Sandusky family members were submitted ahead of time.

During sentencing, Cleland told Sandusky that his continued denial of wrongdoing made him a danger to the community.

"The ultimate tragedy of this situation is that ... you have continued to conceal the very vices that have led to your downfall," Cleland said before handing down the sentence.

Sandusky has been sent to Camp Hill state prison for mental and physical evaluation before he is permanently placed in a different state prison.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct102012

Behind Bars: How Jerry Sandusky Will Live in Prison

Patrick Smith/Getty Images(BELLEFONTE, Pa.) -- As convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky was led away from the Centre County, Pa., court house on Tuesday, the former Penn State football defensive coordinator was headed toward what will likely be the rest of his life in the Pennsylvania state prison system.

Sandusky was sentenced Tuesday morning to serve no less than 30 years and no more than 60 years in state prison for his conviction on 45 counts of child sex abuse, a sentence tantamount to life in prison for the 68-year-old.

He had been found guilty in July of abusing 10 boys he befriended through his charity for underprivileged youth, the Second Mile.  The accusations against Sandusky ignited outrage at Penn State and across the country, as two top officials were arrested for allegedly covering up his crimes, and head football coach Joe Paterno and university president Graham Spanier lost their jobs over their knowledge of the abuse.

Sandusky will now go to Camp Hill State Prison, near Harrisburg, to determine where and how he will spend the rest of his life in jail.  Officials from the Department of Corrections will determine his medical and mental health needs, as wells as his security needs as a 68-year-old pedophile.

"Danger is always a consideration but I think the people in the Department of Corrections would probably say they're very equipped to ensure the safety of inmates," William DiMascio, executive director of the Pennsylvania Prison Society, said.

Officials will then decide where to send Sandusky, likely to a low-security prison specializing in older inmates or those with psychological issues, including one in eastern Pennsylvania with many sex offenders.  

There are 26 prisons for men in Pennsylvania that Sandusky could be sent to, none of which have a special housing unit or facility for sex offenders, the department said.  The system houses more than 50,000 prisoners.

Sandusky could be held in solitary confinement at the beginning of his sentence, though he will likely be transferred to the general population quickly, according to experts.  He will then most likely be placed with other inmates of similar ages and crimes.

"I'm assuming he will be placed with non-violent offenders.  He was not a violent offender in traditional sense, like robber or murderer, and it's a mechanism whereby his safety and security will be hopefully enhanced.  They wouldn't want to put him in a cell with a violent really bad guy," according R. Paul McCauley, professor emeritus at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a legal consultant.

A former state prison inmate who was convicted of sex crimes told ABC News anonymously that Sandusky would receive verbal abuse from inmates because of his case, but likely would not be in physical danger.

"People are going to know who he is, it's very hard to remain anonymous.  You wear your name on your clothes in state prison," he said.  "There will be a substantial amount of verbal harassment, but physical is much less common in Pennsylvania prisons than people think.  Pennsylvania prisons are very non-violent."

Once he has received his housing assignment, he will have the option of participating in a treatment program for sex offenders.  Though he likely will not ever be eligible to receive parole while he is alive, he may find it helpful, according to the ex-inmate.

Sandusky's day will consist of work, recreation time in the yard, and time spent in his cell reading or watching television, including Penn State football games.

"If he wants to buy a TV he can buy a small-screen TV, they only have to pay for the cable, and they have time out in the yard every day to work out, get exercise and whatnot," DiMascio said.

Because of his work in sports and athletics, he may be given a job organizing athletic programs, McCauley said.  He could also work in the kitchen or doing janitorial work, though more prized positions include tutoring and clerical work, according to the former state prisoner.

He can use the money earned from his jobs -- about $15 a month -- for food or toiletries at the commissary or phone calls, for which he is allotted 15 minutes a day.  He can also have visitors multiple times a week, though visits with minors -- including his grandchildren -- will be forbidden.

Sandusky maintains that he was wrongly convicted and will fight his conviction through an appeal.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct092012

Jerry Sandusky Sentenced to 30 to 60 Years in Prison

Patrick Smith/Getty Images(BELLEFONTE, Pa.) -- Jerry Sandusky will spend the rest of his life in prison for the sexual abuse of 10 children after a Pennsylvania judge on Tuesday sentenced him to 30 to 60 years in jail.

"I'm not going to sentence you to centuries," Judge John Cleland said at the sentencing hearing.  "It makes no sense for a 68-year-old man.  This sentence will put you in prison for the rest of your life."

Sandusky, 68, would be 98 at his earliest possible release date. 

Cleland also determined that Sandusky would be classified as a sexually violent predator, mandating that he register as a sex offender if he is ever released from prison.

"The ultimate tragedy of this situation is that... you have continued to conceal the very vices that have led to your downfall," Cleland said before handing down the sentence.  "In my view that makes you dangerous.  You abused the trust of those who trusted you.  These are not crimes against strangers, they are much worse."

"The crime is not only what you did to their bodies, but your assault to the safety and well-being of the community in which we all live," the judge added.

 

The sentence was handed down by Cleland in Bellefonte, Pa. after tearful testimony from both Sandusky and his victims.

Sandusky's victims recounted the horror inflicted on them by the former Penn State football defensive coordinator.  Speakers included one victim's mother, who said her son had twice attempted suicide because of the abuse.

"For four years, I believed you were helping my son but instead you were molesting him," the mother of Victim 9 wrote in a statement.  "He was losing weight, couldn't sleep.  I blame myself and still do.  I have had to endure two attempts from my son on his own life, all because of you and what you did to my son."

"Jerry Sandusky lured me into a Penn State sauna and then a shower and then forcibly had me touch him," said the man identified as Victim 5.  "I am troubled with flashbacks of his naked body.  I continue to be haunted by the incident.  [I have] anxiety, PTSD, nightmares, and embarrassment and guilt."

The statements came just ahead of Sandusky's own tearful statement to the court, in which he denied that he ever engaged in "disgusting acts."  He also described his time in jail, staring at cement walls, imagining the fun times he spent with the children of his charity -- the Second Mile -- through which he met all of his victims.

"A chill goes up my spine and my eyes fill up again.  It doesn't matter what you look at, it's what you see.  When I look at those walls again, I see light, visits from family and friends," Sandusky said on the stand, clad in a red jumpsuit and looking noticeably thinner and more gaunt than during his trial.  "I see me throwing hundreds of kids in the air, water balloon battles, a dog licking childrens' faces."

Sandusky said in his statement that he has spent his time in jail meditating, writing, exercising and reading books about persecution and struggle.  He said he has faced "outbursts by troubled inmates" and "special inmates who have smiled at me."

"Somehow, someway, something good will come out of this.  These are people I cared about, still do.  I used to think of ways to praise them, to help them have fun," he said.

"To my loved ones I want to say, the most difficult part is the pain of separation.  Some of the labeling hurts but they don't compare to the pain of their absence," Sandusky added.

Sandusky's victims said they were outraged at Sandusky's continued claims of innocence.

"You can chose to be in denial about everything you have done, [but] you are only fooling yourself," said the man identified as Victim 6.  "It is time to stop coming up with excuses for your behavior.  If you admit your guilt to God, he will forgive you.  If you don't, you won't be able to receive forgiveness."

"You took something from him that can never be replaced," the statement from Victim 9's mother read.  "Sorry will never be enough.  There is no punishment sufficient for you.  When you admit your wrongdoing, maybe, maybe you will be forgiven."

In a statement released after the sentencing, Penn State President Rodney Erickson declared, "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."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct092012

After Sandusky, Florida Passes One of Nation's Toughest Sexual Abuse Reporting Laws

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) -- The Penn State scandal helped shape a new Florida sexual abuse reporting law that has been called the toughest in the nation, holding universities and individuals financially and criminally liable for failure to report suspected abuse.

Under the law, which went into effect Oct. 1, colleges and universities that "knowingly and willfully" fail to report known or suspected child abuse or prevent another person from doing so will be slapped with a $1 million fine for each failure.

"We learned we didn't want to take a chance on [them]," said Ron Book, president of Lauren's Kids, a nonprofit that helped spearhead the legislation.

That began with mandating that schools report all allegations, not just conduct their own investigations. Book pointed to allegations from Penn State, Syracuse University and The Citadel that were known to administrators but not reported to authorities.

"What we learned after the Sandusky indictment was even though we prided ourselves as being a true mandatory reporting state, we found we weren't," Book said.

Aside from the university financial penalties, Book and his daughter, Lauren, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, also helped closed loopholes in the legislation for individual reporting.

"Applying Penn State to the old Florida law, would Mike McQueary [have] had to report what he saw?" Book said, referring to the former Penn State assistant coach who witnessed Sandusky raping a boy in the school's showers.

"The answer was he would not have."

Previously, a person who called the state abuse hotline to report a suspected incident involving a child would have been asked to call law enforcement if the suspected predator was not a care taker or parent of the child, Book said.

"What we've learned is it's hard enough to get a victim or observer to call once," he said.

Under the new law, witnesses, like McQueary, or people who suspect abuse, are required to call a centralized hotline run by the Florida Department of Children and Families or face third-degree felony charges and a $5,000 fine.

Jennifer Dritt, executive director of the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence, said the stricter reporting law won't necessarily reduce the number of cases of abuse.

"Bad people are going to do bad things," she said, "but I think we can reduce it and we can make it very clear to every citizen that we're all responsible for the welfare of our children."

The Florida Department of Children and Families reported a 25 percent increase in calls since the law went into effect on Oct. 1.

While other states have mandatory reporting laws, there are still loopholes, Book said.

He'd like to see the Florida law he helped pass be used as a model for other states, especially for how they handle situations at colleges and universities.

"If you don't back it up with financial and criminal penalties, you've done nothing and we've gotten nothing out of Sandusky," he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct092012

Jerry Sandusky Arrives for Sentencing, Sexual Predator Determination

Patrick Smith/Getty Images(BELLEFONTE, Pa.) -- A noticeably-thinner Jerry Sandusky arrived in Centre County court in a red jumpsuit Tuesday morning, carrying a manila envelope likely containing the declaration of innocence he will read to the court during his sentencing Tuesday.

The former Penn State football defensive coordinator is facing 10 to 400 years in prison for the 45 counts of child abuse he was convicted of in June. At age 68, any significant sentence could mean life in prison.

Sandusky's wife, Dottie, smiled at people gathered at the courthouse as she entered with her daughter, Kara, who waved. The pair arrived with Sandusky's attorney, Joseph Amendola, for the hearing.

Judge John Cleland is first expected to make a determination as to whether Sandusky is a sexually violent predator, a classification that would result in him registering as a sex offender if he were ever released from prison.

Following the classification, the sentencing phase of the hearing will begin, with both Sandusky and his victims set to make statements about his future in prison.

Sandusky released a statement Monday night to a Penn State radio station that reflected his belief that he is innocent and the victim of a conspiracy.  He said he believed his victims were lying for their own gain and that the police and the media joined in a witch hunt.

"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," Sandusky said on the recording.  "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.  Our love continues."

Sandusky's family members have also written letters to the judge on his behalf, Amendola said. They will not testify at the hearing.

Sandusky's denial of guilt drew an angry response from Thomas Kline, the attorney for one of his victims, who called the statement, "a lashing out on the eve on his sentencing."

"There is no chance that Mr. Sandusky was innocent," Kline said. "It is preposterous to suggest that 10 separate victims, their families, their parents, their lawyers, the prosecutors, and the press and everyone else conspired to somehow convict Mr. Sandusky."

Kline's client, the man known as Victim 5, will testify with about six other victims in the case, according to prosecutors.

After the testimony, Cleland will hand down a sentence. He could choose to sentence Sandusky to as few as 10 years in prison if he orders concurrent prison time, in which Sandusky would serve the sentence for each count at the same time.

But if Cleland instead chooses to sentence him to consecutive terms, Sandusky could face more than 400 years in prison.

Sandusky will undergo extensive evaluations after sentencing, including his medical and mental health needs, health care, security level, and program needs, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.

Sandusky's security will likely be an issue as authorities decide where to place him in the state prison population, as his case could make him a target for other inmates.

There are 25 prisons for men in Pennsylvania that Sandusky could be sent to, none of which have a special housing unit or facility for sex offenders, the department said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct092012

Jerry Sandusky Will Declare Innocence at Sentencing Tuesday

Patrick Smith/Getty ImagesUPDATE: Jerry Sandusky released a recorded statement Monday night declaring his innocence. In the three-minute statement, the former Penn State football defensive coordinator urged people to "evaluate the accusers and their families, realize they didn’t come out of isolation," suggesting that their claims were motivated by fame or monetary reasons. You can listen to the entire jailhouse statement here.

(BELLEFONTE, Pa.) -- Jerry Sandusky didn't take the stand during his child sex abuse trial last summer, but he will at his sentencing to declare that he is innocent of the 45 verdicts finding him guilty, his lawyer said Monday.

The former Penn State defensive coordinator faces anywhere from 10 years to more than 400 years in prison when Judge John Clelands hands down his sentence at the end of Tuesday's hearing. At age 68, any significant sentence could mean life in prison for the former Penn State defensive coordinator.

Before Cleland decides on prison time, however, Sandusky and his victims will both have the opportunity to make statements.

According to defense attorney Joe Amendola, Sandusky so regretted not taking the stand during his trial that he is anxious to speak directly to the court Tuesday.

Sandusky's family members have also written letters to the judge on his behalf, Amendola said. Sandusky's wife Dottie, who has insisted on his innocence throughout the trial, will be present in the courtroom, Amendola said.

Victim 5, who was approached from behind by Jerry in the shower in the Penn State locker rooms, is expected to testify. Sandusky lifted the boy up to the shower head and held him around his stomach, though Victim 5 said during the trial he doesn't remember any sexual abuse.

The statements from both Sandusky and the victim will follow a 9 a.m. hearing to determine whether Sandusky will be classified a sexually violent predator. If he is found to be sexually violent, he will be mandated to register as a sex offender if ever released from prison.

After Cleland decides Sandusky's status as a sexual predator, and hears the testimony from both sides, he will decide on a sentence. He could choose to sentence Sandusky to as few as 10 years in prison if he orders concurrent prison time, in which Sandusky would serve the sentence for each count at the same time.

But if Cleland instead chooses to sentence him to consecutive terms, Sandusky could face more than 400 years in prison.

Sandusky will undergo extensive evaluations after sentencing, including his medical and mental health needs, health care, security level, and program needs, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.

Sandusky's security will likely be an issue as authorities decide where to place him in the state prison population, as his case could make him a target for other inmates.

There are 25 prisons for men in Pennsylvania that Sandusky could be sent to, none of which have a special housing unit or facility for sex offenders, the department said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio