BELLEFONTE, Pa. - Jerry Sandusky, who arrived shackled and smiling to court this morning, is set to receive a sentence today on 45 counts of child sex abuse that will likely to put him in prison for the rest of his life.

But the 68-year-old former Pennsylvania State University assistant football coach wasn't done fighting.

Sandusky maintained his innocence and blasted prosecutors, his accusers, Penn State and the media on Monday in a taped jailhouse statement he sent to a university-affiliated, student-produced news website.

Meanwhile, his attorneys have already begun the work of appealing his conviction and are expected to make their legal filings within days of today's decision.

The sentencing hearing was set to begin 9 a.m. in a Centre County courtroom. Sandusky arrived promptly, accompanied by sheriff's deputies. He was wearing a red prison jumpsuit, white sneakers and holding a manila envelope. His attorney and his wife, Dottie, also arrived.

"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. In my heart, I know I did not do these alleged disgusting acts," Sandusky said in the taped statement released Monday on the website PSUComMedia.com, a venue for student produced work run by Penn State's College of Communications.

His attorney Karl Rominger later confirmed the recording's authenticity but said the statement surprised him as much as it did the rest of the world.

Though he was aware of his client's intense feelings about his conviction and had said the former coach intended to proclaim his innocence at his sentencing hearing today, Rominger said he did not know Sandusky had made the recording or sent it to the website.

"I had not seen that statement prior to the release," , the lawyer said in an interview late Monday with CNN's Anderson Cooper. "We would tell him probably not to do it, but given the mandatory minimums in this case it's probably not going to make much of a difference."

In an interview earlier Monday, Rominger acknowledged that the decision to take a combative tone in court instead of pleading for leniency or expressing remorse could negatively affect Sandusky's fate.

Under state sentencing guidelines, Judge John M. Cleland can impose a sentence ranging from as little as 10 years to more than 400 for the 45 counts of child sex abuse on 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.

Cleland 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 looked at as a mentor and father figure molested them, in some cases for years.

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 that the coach, revered on the campus, took them to football games, showered them with gifts, and then abused them on Penn State's campus, where his reputation scared many of them into keeping silent.

They 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 conceded he often showered with the boys after workouts but suggested in his taped statement Monday that his accusers' parallel allegations originated with one publicity-hungry teen whose version of events ended up shading the testimony of the others.

As many as six of the former coach's accusers could take the stand during today's court hearing, prosecutors said Monday Several others have submitted victim impact statements to the judge for consideration.

Sandusky is the only witness expected to testify on his behalf, though his lawyers said Monday that his wife, Dorothy, and five of their adult children continue to stand behind him and have expressed their belief in his innocence to the court.

A sixth son originally agreed to testify as a defense witness at Sandusky's trial, but later came forward with allegations that he, too, had been molested.

Once the sentence is handed down, Sandusky's lawyers have 10 days to file their initial appeals. They have signaled that their primary objection will be the short timetable to prepare his defense between his arrest in November and his June trial.

Cleland will have four months to review the merits of those claims.

Contact staff writer Jeremy Roebuck at 267-564-5218, jroebuck@phillynews.com, or @jeremyrroebuck on Twitter.

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