US coach guilty on most counts in pedophilia case: US media

Agence France-Presse
US jury convicts former football coach Jerry Sandusky on 45 of 48 counts in a child sex abuse case

NEW YORK, United States of America — A US jury on Friday, June 22, convicted former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky on 45 of 48 counts in a child sex abuse case that shocked the nation and rocked the university, US media said.

Police led the 68-year-old Sandusky away from the courthouse in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania in handcuffs, television footage showed.

Sandusky, who stood accused of molesting 10 boys over a 15-year period, allegedly recruited his young victims under the guise of a program he ran for abused and neglected youth.

It was not immediately clear on which three counts Sandusky was found not guilty.

Victims’ ‘great strength’

The case has shocked the United States, where many are obsessed by college sports and hold up their American football team’s coaches as demi-gods.

The headline-grabbing scandal also has tarnished the legacy of Pennsylvania State University, one of the country’s most illustrious college football programs.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly thanked the victims for testifying, saying they had “shown great strength… to not only tell their stories to a packed courtroom, but the entire world.”

Prosecutors said Sandusky recruited his victims through his Second Mile charity, which went bankrupt last month after donations dried up in the wake of the scandal.

Sandusky, who did not testify in his own defense, had faced 48 counts of sexually abusing at least 10 boys between 1994 and 2008, with some of the alleged incidents taking place on campus.

Sandusky’s lawyer Joseph Amendola told reporters after the verdict was read that he had battled a “tidal wave of public opinion against Jerry Sandusky” and that the verdict was not a surprise.

“I used the analogy that we were trying to climb Mount Everest from the bottom of the mountain. Well obviously, we didn’t make it,” Amendola said.

Amendola said there were “decent appeal issues” that his team would pursue, but acknowledged: “Essentially, the sentence that Jerry will receive is a life sentence.”

That statement elicited cheers from the crowd gathered outside the courthouse.

The scandal led to the firing of Penn State’s longtime head football coach Joe Paterno, a national icon whose fall from grace came just a few weeks before his unexpected death from lung cancer in January at the age of 85.

The legendary coach was fired in November for failing to notify authorities when he was told Sandusky had been seen molesting a boy in the shower.

’10 souls’ in pocket

On Thursday, June 21, prosecuting assistant attorney general Joseph McGettigan had made an emotional plea to the jury to convict Sandusky, depicting him as a predatory pedophile who callously groomed his young victims.

“They shared something in common: fatherless children,” McGettigan said. “I submit to you that he was preying on those who were the most vulnerable.”

“I feel like I have 10 pieces of souls in my pockets, pieces of childhoods ravished,” McGettigan said. — Agence France-Presse