BELLEFONTE, Pa. - Jerry Sandusky was convicted Friday night of molesting 10 boys over 15 years, closing the first chapter in a scandal that tarnished the reputation of Pennsylvania State University and led to the ouster of four of its top administrators.
Sandusky, 68, a retired defensive coordinator for the university's football team who was once thought to be in line to succeed the revered head coach Joe Paterno, was found guilty of 45 of 48 counts of child sex abuse.
He remained stone-faced as the verdict by a Centre County Common Please Court jury of seven women and five men was read in court just before 10 p.m. Judge John M. Cleland ordered him to be immediately taken to a county correctional facility to await sentencing in 90 days. He faces the possibility of life in prison.
Sandusky offered a slight wave towards family members as deputy sheriffs escorted him from the courtroom. Outside, he emerged in handcuffs. A bystander yelled, "Rot in hell!"
Meanwhile, inside the courtroom, Sandusky's attorney, Joseph Amendola, red-eyed, knelt beside his client's wife, Dottie Sandusky, and other family members seated in the front row.
"This is not unexpected," he told her as other family members pressed close. "I don't know what else we could have done."
Dottie Sandusky responded to him with a shaking voice.
A family member said there would be no immediate comment.
Amendola, surrounded by reporters as court was adjourned, said that the family was devastated but that Sandusky was prepared to go to jail Friday night.
"From the beginning, we knew what we were facing. Surprise would have been [if the verdict had gone] the other way."
Amendola said he had been frank all along with Sandusky about his chances in court.
"We've talked about jail, we've talked about length of sentence," he said.
Amendola said Sandusky was not frightened of prison.
On the courthouse steps, hundreds of spectators let out a cheer audible for blocks as news of the verdict leaked. After about 20 minutes, students gathered at the statue of Paterno, the late head coach who lost his job as a result of the Sandusky scandal.
Other reactions poured in almost at once. Lawyers for two of Sandusky's accusers issued this statement: "Our clients are relieved about the outcome of this trial and are grateful for the support they have received from their families, and from the nation, as they continue on their path to healing."
A statement issued by the Paterno family said, "Although we understand the task of healing is just beginning, today's verdict is an important milestone. 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."
"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," said Penn State spokesman David La Torre. The university promised to create a forum in order to "privately, expeditiously and fairly address the victims' concerns and compensate them for claims."
Jurors took more than 20 hours over two days to reach their verdict. This came after an eight-day trial in which they heard from eight accusers who said Sandusky had molested them as boys during a period spanning from the mid-1990s until 2009.
Each said they met Sandusky through the Second Mile, the charity for underprivileged youth he founded in 1977. Many shared similar stories of the former coach groping their naked bodies in football locker room showers or raping them in the basement of his State College home.
Jurors also heard of assaults on two other victims whom prosecutors never identified. The most publicized incident was described by former Penn State assistant football coach Mike McQueary. He testified last week that he walked in on Sandusky in 2001 sodomizing a boy in a locker-room shower.
Defense lawyers had some success in rebutting those claims on at least one of the counts on which Sandusky was acquitted. Jurors did not convict the former coach of indecent assault in that incident, but a host of other counts stemming from McQueary's tale.
As far as the other counts, defense attorneys attempted to counter the accuser's claims by alleging that their client's accusers had conspired to make up their accounts of abuse in hopes of eventual windfalls from after-trial suits against Penn State.
Sandusky's verdict Friday is only the first courtroom reckoning tied to the scandal.
Former Penn State athletic director Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, a former vice president in charge of the campus police, face charges of perjury and failing to report child abuse stemming from their response to the McQueary episode.
Prosecutors say both did not report the incident to outside authorities and later lied about their knowledge of it to grand jurors. They maintain their innocence and expect to take their case before a Dauphin County jury in the next year.
Sooner, Penn State officials will hear from former FBI Director Louis Freeh, who was hired to conduct an internal investigation into the university's handling of allegations against Sandusky. His report could be released as soon as July, university trustees said.
And last week, as Sandusky's trial began, the university began preparing trustees for the possibility of an indictment against former president Graham B. Spanier. Though prosecutors did not initially charge Spanier with a crime, grand jurors have reportedly focused on his role in handling McQueary's claims.
Spanier resigned his position at the university in November on the same day trustees fired revered head football coach Joe Paterno for not doing enough in response to allegations against Sandusky.
In court, Sandusky half-waved toward family as the sheriff led him away. Outside, he calmly walked to a sheriff's car with his hands cuffed in front of him.
Almost immediately after the judge adjourned, loud cheers could be heard from at least several hundred people gathered outside the courthouse as word quickly spread that Sandusky had been convicted. The group included victim advocates and local residents with their children. Many held up their smartphones to take pictures as people filtered out of the building.
Eight young men testified in a central Pennsylvania courtroom about a range of abuse, from kissing and massages to groping, oral sex and anal rape. For two other alleged victims, prosecutors relied on testimony from a university janitor and then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary, whose account of a sexual encounter between Sandusky and a boy of about 10 ultimately led to the Paterno's dismissal and the university president's ouster.
Sandusky did not take the stand in his own defense.
He had repeatedly denied the allegations, and his defense suggested that his accusers had a financial motive to make up stories, years after the fact. His attorney also painted Sandusky as the victim of overzealous police investigators who coached the alleged victims into giving accusatory statements.
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