BELLEFONTE, PA – Jerry Sandusky was sentenced today to at least 30 years in prison — effectively a life sentence — in the child sexual abuse scandal that brought shame to Penn State and led to coach Joe Paterno‘s downfall.
A defiant Sandusky gave a rambling statement in which he denied the allegations and talked about his life in prison and the pain of being away from his family.
Three victims spoke, often fighting back tears. One looked Sandusky in the eyes at times.
The 68-year-old former Penn State assistant coach was found guilty in June of 45 counts of child sexual abuse, convicted of molesting 10 boys over a 15-year period. Witnesses said Sandusky used the charitable organization he founded for troubled children as his personal hunting ground to find and groom boys to become his victims.
His arrest 11 months ago, and the details that came out during his trial over the summer, transformed Sandusky’s public image from a college coach who had been widely admired for his work with The Second Mile charity into that of a reviled pervert who preyed on the very youngsters who sought his help.
An enlargeable map of the 67 counties of the state of Florida (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
By Pete Williams, NBC News, and M. Alex Johnson, msnbc.com
Updated at 2:57 p.m. ET: The special prosecutor in the Trayvon Martin case will announce criminal charges against George Zimmerman on Wednesday, a law enforcement official told NBC News.
The nature of the charges wasn’t immediately known, the official told NBC News Justice Department correspondent Pete Williams, speaking on condition of anonymity. But because Angela Corey — the special prosecutor appointed by Florida Gov. Rick Scott to re-examine the case — previously announced that she wouldn’t take the case to a grand jury, first-degree murder is not an option.
Corey’s office confirmed that a news conference would be at 6 p.m. ET in Jacksonville, Fla.
Authorities in Sanford, Fla. — where Zimmerman, 28, a neighborhood watch volunteer, shot Martin, 17, on Feb. 26 — also began preparing for an announcement from Corey, NBC station WESH of Orlando reported. Seminole County sheriff’s deputies spent Wednesday morning setting up barricades along the booking area for new inmates at the county jail.