By Jeremy Roebuck and Jeff Gammage The Philadelphia Inquirer
BELLEFONTE, Pa. — Defiant and unrepentant, Jerry Sandusky accused his victims of lodging “false allegations” against him in a taped jailhouse statement aired by a local radio station one day before he was set to be sentenced on 45 counts of child sex abuse.
The former Pennsylvania State University assistant football coach blamed a conspiracy driven by aggressive investigators, lying accusers and the media for putting him behind bars and questioned whether anything good could come from the publicity his case has received.
The three-minute statement was aired late Monday by Penn State’s student-run radio station.
“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.”
His statements coincided with signals from his defense team Monday that it had abandoned plans to plead for leniency during his sentencing hearing Tuesday and instead shifted focus to appealing Sandusky’s conviction.
“The bottom line is this,” Sandusky’s attorney Joseph Amendola said, emerging Monday afternoon from an in-chambers conference with Judge John M. Cleland. “How can he be remorseful if he maintains his innocence?”
Under state sentencing guidelines, Judge John M. Cleland could impose a sentence of anywhere from 10 to more than 400 years for the 45 counts of child sex abuse of which Sandusky was convicted in June.
Those charges include multiple counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, indecent assault and corruption of minors, the most serious of which carry 10-year minimum sentences. The judge could decide to have Sandusky serve them concurrently rather than consecutively.
Throughout the former coach’s two-week trial, eight young men testified that the man many had looked at as a mentor and father figure had molested them, many over a period of years.
In all, prosecutors presented evidence implicating Sandusky in the abuse of 10 boys, all of whom he met through the Second Mile, the charity he founded for underprivileged youth. Many testified they were abused on Penn State’s campus.
Lead prosecutor Joseph McGettigan said Monday that as many as six of those men would take the stand Tuesday in hopes of persuading Cleland that Sandusky’s crimes warrant the harshest punishment possible. However, when asked what he felt an appropriate sentence might be, McGettigan dodged.
“We are confident the court will impose an appropriate sentence,” he said.
Sandusky, 68, has denied the charges against him since his November arrest and continues to regret not taking the stand to defend himself during his trial, his attorney said.
Many of his accusers told similar stories of abuse that began with lingering hugs and light touching and escalated to more harrowing encounters involving oral sex, masturbation and rape.
Sandusky has conceded he often showered with the boys after workouts but suggested Monday that their parallel stories of abuse originated with one publicity-hungry accuser whose version of events ended up shading the testimony of the others thanks to prosecutors’ aggressive tactics.
“A young man who is dramatic and a veteran accuser and always sought attention started everything,” he said in his taped statement. “He was joined by a well-orchestrated effort of the media, investigators, the system, Penn State, psychologists, civil attorneys and other accusers. They won. I’ve wondered what they really won. Attention, financial gain, prestige will all be temporary.”
Since his conviction, Sandusky has remained in protective custody in the Centre County jail, spending much of his time working on a statement he will read in court Tuesday and preparing for his post-sentencing appeals, his lawyers said.
Already, the former coach’s lawyers have argued that they did not have adequate time to prepare a full defense due to the abrupt timeline between Sandusky’s arrest last year and his trial this summer.
“Over and over, I asked: Why? Why didn’t we have a fair opportunity to prepare for trial? Why have so many people suffered as a result of false allegations?” Sandusky said Monday. “What’s the purpose? Maybe it will help others – some vulnerable children who could be abused might not be as a result of all the publicity. That would be nice, but I’m not sure.”
&Copy;2012 The Philadelphia Inquirer
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