(NBC) BELLEFONTE, Pa. — Jerry Sandusky was convicted of 45 counts of child sexual abuse Friday night and faces spending the rest of his life in state prison. His attorney said he would appeal the verdict.
Sandusky’s attorney, Joseph Amendola, asked Judge John Cleland to allow Sandusky to be released on house arrest, but Cleland summarily rejected the request, saying: “Bail is revoked. Mr. Sandusky is remanded to the custody of the sheriff.” Sandusky was immediately led out of the courthouse in handcuffs as a large crowd of onlookers cheered. Sentencing was set for late September.
Sandusky, 68, the former longtime defensive coordinator for the Penn State University football team, had denied all 48 counts alleging that he abused 10 boys over 15 years. Two grand jury reports accused him of having used his connection to one of the nation’s premier college football programs to “groom” the boys, whom he met through his Second Mile charity for troubled children, for sexual relationships.Several of the counts are so-called mandated felonies, meaning Cleland has no discretion in sentencing. NBC News reported that he faces a minimum of 60 years in prison.
Cleland, who is a senior judge in McKean County, was brought to Centre County to oversee the trial after local judges recused themselves.
Amendola, who was interrupted by hecklers outside the courthouse several times, said he had expected the outcome and respected the verdict of the jurors, who didn’t speak to reporters afterward.
Amendola said he believed Sandusky had legitimate grounds for appeal, saying his client had “an uphill battle” because of the extensive pretrial publicity.
“We said we were attempting to climb Mount Everest from the bottom of the mountain. Obviously, we didn’t make it,” he said.
Kelly thanked the victims, who she said “came forward to bravely testify in this trial and to finally put a stop to the crimes that were committed.”
“We hope that our search for justice will help them and perhaps others looking on nearby and afar,” she said.
Grace Gordon, 49, of Bellefonte, also welcomed the verdict but lamented the damage the trial had done to Bellefonte and Centre County.
“It’s hard. It really is, to see a small town torn apart like this,” said Gordon, who was outside the courthouse with her 23-year-old son and his girlfriend.
Gordon said her father, wrho worked with Sandusky at Penn State, “would have just been devastated to know about this.”
“You’d never, ever have dreamed that he’d be that kind of person,” Gordon said. “What he did to those kids is just horrendous.”
The university that Sandusky served for decades said in a statement late Friday that “we have tremendous respect for the men who came forward to tell their stories publicly. No verdict can undo the pain and suffering caused by Mr. Sandusky, but we do hope this judgment helps the victims and their families along their path to healing.”
The university said it would seek to “fairly … compensate” the victims and invited them to participate in a program to “facilitate the resolution of claims against the University arising out of Mr. Sandusky’s conduct.”
It said it intended to get in contact with lawyers for the victims “in the near future.”
A trial that riveted the nation
The trial, which opened June 11, culminated months of intense attention that led to the firing of head coach Joe Paterno, who won more games than any other major college football coach in history, many of them with Sandusky at his side.
Paterno died exactly five months ago, a few weeks after the Penn State Board of Trustees dismissed him for not having done enough to stop Sandusky’s abuse.
Jurors heard often-graphic testimony from eight of the 10 victims whose accounts were included in two grand jury reports. They told how Sandusky would first win their trust by giving them gifts and taking them on trips with the football team before progressing to hugging, kissing, increasingly sexual touching and, in some cases, oral and anal sex.
In a rare occurrence in an abuse trial, prosecutors also presented the testimony of a corroborating eyewitness — Sandusky’s former Penn State coaching colleague Michael McQueary, who said that he saw a young boy, identified in the first grand jury report as “Victim 2,” in a Penn State shower with Sandusky.
McQueary said the boy had his hands against the wall and that Sandusky was standing up against him from behind. He said he heard a “skin-on-skin smacking sound” and that he had “no doubt” that Sandusky was engaging in anal sex with the boy.
Because they were sequestered, without access to computers, phones or any other way to hear news coverage, the jury of seven women and five men wouldn’t have heard newer, potentially damaging information from two other accusers that emerged after they began deliberations.
Sandusky’s adopted son Matt said he had been prepared to testify that he, too, was a victim of abuse by his father, according to a statement issued Thursday by attorneys who said they are representing the younger Sandusky.
(NBC News and msnbc.com generally do not identify victims of sexual assaults, but Matt Sandusky chose to identify himself in a public statement released through his attorneys.)
Matt Sandusky: From staunch defender to possibly his father’s most damning accuser
Amendola said Friday night that Jerry Sandusky abandoned plans to testify in his own defense because of the prospect of damaging rebuttal testimony by his son.
Nor would they have heard the account of Travis Weaver, 30, of Ohio, who attended Second Mile camps as a youth. Weaver told NBC News in an interview that aired Thursday night that Sandusky performed oral sex on him in the upstairs bedroom of the Sanduskys’ home.
Weaver testified to one of the two grand juries but wasn’t mentioned in the grand jury reports or called as a witness during the trial.
The end of the trial doesn’t mean the case is over.
Two former top Penn State officials, former Athletic Director Timothy Curley and former vice president Gary Schultz, face perjury charges in connection with their grand jury testimony in December, in which prosecutors alleged that concealed what they knew about Sandusky’s conduct.
Law enforcement sources have told NBC News that former Penn State President Graham Spanier, who was fired in November, was under investigation for possible similar charges.