A child sex abuse case that has shocked the country and tarnished the reputation of one of the most celebrated college football programs in America has just witnessed the first conviction of arguably many more trials to come
After a short trial that began on June 11 that had charged former Penn State football defense coach Jerry Sandusky with sexual abuse of 10 boys, the jury delivered a verdict tonight finding Sandusky guilty of 45 counts of sexual abuse that could potentially sentence him up to 442 years.
The sex abuse scandal that has tarnished Penn State University, also resulted in the firing of Joe Paterno, who had led the celebrated football program for 46 years.
Sandusky was immediately taken into custody and will spend his first night in jail after months of media reports that revealed sordid details about Sandusky’s serial pedophilia of male children during a 15-year period while working at Penn State University where many of his criminal sexual acts were committed in the football program’s athletic facilities.
Sandusky is married and the father of six children. His wife Dottie testified on his behalf and denied evidence that Sandusky was a pedophile. His son Matthew reported that he was sexually abused by his father after the trial was completed on Thursday.
The jury deliberated for nearly 21 hours and sentencing is expected within 90 days. Sandusky is now being processed for incarceration at a local jail in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania and will most likely be placed under a 24-hour suicide watch.
The Sandusky conviction was delivered on the five-month anniversary of Penn State football coach Joe Paterno’s death. Paterno lamented his failure to effectively report Sandusky to Penn State officials after he was notified by Mike McQueary, an assistant football coach in December 2001, who witnessed Sandusky naked and standing behind a naked boy in a Penn State shower facility.
Paterno said he wished he had done more to have addressed the allegations against Sandusky. He died five months ago of lung cancer.
Sandusky’s arrest in November led the Penn State trustees to fire Paterno as head coach, saying he exhibited a lack of leadership after fielding a report from McQueary. The scandal also led to the ouster of university president Graham Spanier, and criminal charges against two university administrators for failing to properly report suspected child abuse and perjury.
Tanya L. Domi is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University who teaches human rights in East Central Europe and former Yugoslavia. She is a Harriman Institute affiliated faculty member. Prior to teaching at Columbia, Domi was a nationally recognized LGBT civil rights activist who worked for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force during the campaign to lift the military ban in the early 1990s. Domi has also worked internationally in a dozen countries on issues related to democratic transitional development, including political and media development, human rights, gender issues and media freedom. She is chair of the board of directors for GetEQUAL. She is currently writing a book about the emerging LGBT human rights movement in the Western Balkans.
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