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Jury convicts Sandusky on 45 counts in child sex abuse trial

Posted at 10:35 PM, Jun 22, 2012
and last updated 2012-06-23 08:29:25-04

BELLEFONTE, Pennsylvania (CNN) -- Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky will likely spend the rest of his life in jail after a jury convicted him on 45 of 48 counts related to sexual abuse of boys, ending a painful chapter for victims and the entire university.

But the ordeal is not over, as Sandusky's defense team announced plans to appeal despite the mountain of convictions against his client.

"If you win on one of the appeal issues, everything probably falls," attorney Joe Amendola said. "So all we have to do is convince an appellate court that one of the issues that we will raise is worthy of a reversal. ... It doesn't matter, it could be 100 counts, and it would still all come back if an appeal is granted."

His co-counsel, Karl Rominger, cited questionable court decisions during the trial as grounds for appeal.

"The judge was very fair to us on many levels, but there were a lot of unique legal issues where he made rulings that could be overturned, not because they were, per se, wrong, but because the law in the area was so unclear," Rominger said.

He said "substantial constitutional questions" surrounded the prosecution's ability to use an accuser's claims based on hearsay alone. "All the convictions could come back on that ruling alone," Rominger said.

Jurors delivered the verdict late Friday night after deliberating for 21 hours over two days. They brought convictions related to all 10 sexual abuse victims, with the three not-guilty verdicts applying to three different individuals.

One of WNEP-TV's reporter was sitting behind Victim 6 who said he waited years for this verdict -- and began to cry when it was over.

As word of the verdict spread outside the courthouse, an emotional scream of "guilty" was heard and a large crowd cheered.

Sandusky stood slightly hunched, looking down with his hand in his pocket but showing no visible emotion as the guilty verdicts were read out in court. His wife, Dottie, blinked back tears.

Judge John Cleland revoked Sandusky's bail and ordered his arrest.

As Sandusky left the courthouse in handcuffs, reporters asked if he had anything to say to the victims. The 68-year-old remained silent as he ducked into the back seat of a police car destined for the Centre County jail.

"The Sandusky family is very disappointed, obviously, by the verdict of the jury, but we respect their verdict," Amendola told reporters gathered outside. Jeering crowds occasionally interrupted his comments.

At the same time, Amendola pointed to a "tidal wave of public opinion" against his client as one of several factors that led him to believe this outcome wasn't surprising.

"It was the expected outcome because of the overwhelming evidence against Jerry Sandusky," he said.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly, expressed satisfaction in the jury's decision to hold the ex-coach accountable. She was especially thankful for the victims who testified, in some cases many years after they were abused.

"It was incredibly difficult for some of them to unearth long buried memories of (what) they had suffered," Kelly said. "This trial was not something that they sought, but rather something that forced them to face the demons of their past."

Back inside the courtroom, the young man identified in court documents as Victim 6 was in tears as he hugged prosecutors.

Sandusky should be sentenced in about 90 days, the judge said. Jurors did not speak with the media immediately after the verdict.

The case has gripped the nation since last fall and led to the dismissal of legendary coach Joe Paterno and one of America's highest-paid university president, Graham Spanier.

The family of Paterno, who died in January, issued a statement Friday after the verdict.

"Although we understand the task of healing is just beginning, today's verdict is an important milestone," the statement said. "The community owes a measure of gratitude to the jurors for their diligent service. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the victims and their families."

The university, meanwhile, said it had "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," Penn State said in a statement.

Penn State said it will invite the victims to participate in a program to facilitate resolution.

"The university wants to provide a forum where the university can privately, expeditiously and fairly address the victims' concerns and compensate them for claims relating to the University."

The Sandusky case has infuriated the Penn State community, not just because of the heinous nature of the crimes, but also because the scandal has unfairly defined the university, students say.

"It's a relief. Now we can begin to heal," Penn State senior Karisa Maxwell said of the verdict. "I've never seen Jerry Sandusky. He has no affect on my education. For people to say he's Penn State is disgusting. That's not the case."

After a week of testimony, during which time witnesses graphically described sexual encounters with Sandusky that they said occurred during their boyhoods, jurors made their decision without ever having heard from Sandusky on the witness stand.

During closing arguments, prosecutors described the ex-Nittany Lions defensive coordinator as a pedophile who preyed on victims using a charity he founded for troubled children, repeatedly abusing young boys in his care.

The defense tried to pick apart the testimony of Mike McQueary, a former graduate assistant who testified that he witnessed Sandusky apparently sodomizing a boy in a university shower.

In a bombshell announcement Thursday evening, Matt Sandusky -- one of Jerry Sandusky's six adopted children -- said through his attorney that he was sexually abused by the former coach, adding that he had been prepared to testify against him.

Legal analysts say the accusation could bring additional charges, including incest charges, against the former coach.

The broader scandal has also brought charges against vice president Gary Schultz and former Athletic Director Tim Curley for perjury and failing to report the abuse.

Eight young men testified, often in disturbingly graphic detail, of how Sandusky forced them to engage in sexual acts in various places, including showers in the Penn State coaches' locker room, hotel rooms and the basement of his home.

On Tuesday, Sandusky's wife told jurors that she could remember at least six of her husband's accusers staying overnight at their house, but that she never witnessed sexual abuse.

The defense challenged the accusers' timetable, questioned the various allegations and called multiple character witness to defend Sandusky's stellar reputation in the community.

Though Friday night's verdict prompted cheers outside the courtroom, inside, the mother of Victim 6 did not claim victory.

"Nobody wins. We've all lost," she said before hugging her son.

CNN's Elisa Roupenian, Susan Candiotti, Ross Levitt, Jason Carroll, Dana Garrett, Laura Dolan, Holly Yan and Anderson Cooper and In Session's Michael Christian and Mayra Cuevas contributed to this report.

COMPLETE COVERAGE: Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse trial


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