Jerry Sandusky hearing set for Oct. 9
There's little doubt that Jerry Sandusky faces a long prison sentence. In a few weeks, he'll find out how just how long.
A judge announced Monday he will sentence Sandusky on Oct. 9, nearly four months after the retired assistant football coach was convicted in the child molestation scandal that brought shame to Penn State.
Sandusky was convicted in June of 45 counts of sex abuse involving 10 boys. Prosecutors said some of the assaults took place on the Penn State campus.
Given his age and the serious nature of the crimes, Sandusky is likely to receive a sentence that will keep the 68-year-old in prison for life. He is jailed pending sentencing and maintains his innocence.
Judge John Cleland scheduled a hearing for 9 a.m. at the courthouse in Bellefonte to determine if Sandusky should be classified as a sexually violent predator, a designation that subjects a convict to intense reporting requirements upon release. An assessment board has recommended Sandusky for the designation, though it's expected to have little practical effect since he stands to die in prison.
Sandusky will be sentenced immediately afterward. Cleland ordered defense attorneys and prosecutors to submit written statements "intended to aid the court in the imposition of sentence" by Oct. 5.
Sandusky's attorney Joe Amendola said his client might make a statement at the hearing.
"Jerry remains in relatively good spirits and has spent most of his time in custody preparing for his sentencing and his appeal," Amendola said via email.
Tom Kline, a lawyer representing a young man who testified during Sandusky's trial that he was fondled in a school shower in 2001, said Monday he expects his client either to testify at the sentencing hearing or supply a statement to the court.
"We expect to provide what is requested by the attorney's general's office to assure justice is achieved in Mr. Sandusky's sentencing," Kline said in an email.
Nils Frederiksen, a spokesman in the attorney general's office, said prosecutors will make a sentencing recommendation to the judge.
A long sentence, like a conviction, can help victims feel they were believed, said Kristen Houser of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape. But she added that justice achieved through the court system is not a cure-all.
"Having him convicted and having him sentenced does not alter one iota the daily baggage that he inflicted upon them that they have to figure out how to manage every day for the rest of their lives," she said.
The abuse scandal touched off by Sandusky's Nov. 5 arrest rocked Penn State, bringing down famed coach Joe Paterno and the university's president and leading the NCAA to levy unprecedented sanctions against the football program.
Former FBI director Louis Freeh, hired by school trustees to conduct an investigation into the university's handling of abuse complaints against Sandusky, concluded that Paterno, ousted president Graham Spanier and two other high-level school officials concealed a 2001 allegation against Sandusky to protect Penn State from bad publicity.
The late coach's family and Spanier hotly disputed Freeh's assertions. So did former athletic director Tim Curley and retired vice president Gary Schulz, who have been charged criminally with failure to report suspected child abuse and perjury. They have pleaded innocent and await trial.
Some alumni groups have also attacked the Freeh report and said Penn State and the NCAA should not have accepted its conclusions.