Jerry Sandusky plans to speak at sentencing hearing

Dan Wetzel
Yahoo Sports

BELLEFONTE, Pa. – During a recess on the fifth day of his June trial on 48 counts of sexual molestation, Jerry Sandusky stood in front of a defense table, leafing through a file on a now 18-year-old called Victim No. 9.

Days later, Sandusky was found guilty of 45 counts. Tuesday he'll return to the second-floor courtroom to hear Judge John Cleland sentence him. He faces a maximum of 442 years. The 68-year-old former Penn State defensive coordinator has been in solitary confinement in the Centre County Correctional Facility since the verdict. Now he'll head to a full-on prison, almost certainly within Pennsylvania.

On Tuesday, he'll have the opportunity to speak in open court after not taking the stand in June. His attorney, Joe Amendola reaffirmed Monday that Sandsuky plans on reading from a prepared statement and a hint of the mindset that will dictate those anticipated words was available at that defense table on June 18.

The day's testimony was particularly harsh, even by Sandusky trial standards. Victim No. 9, now 18, openly wept as he discussed the horrors of repeated oral and anal rapes when he was 12 and 13 years old, often from Sandusky's basement waterbed. He talked about hiding it all from his mother by throwing away blood-stained underwear that he told his mother was "lost."

Victim No. 9 described the creepiness of the old man he met through the Second Mile charity – a charity designed to help disadvantaged children – professing love for him.

His mom later took the stand and cried for not paying closer attention to her son's moods.

It was emotional. It was awful.

[Related: Ex-PSU coach Mike McQueary files $4 million whistleblower lawsuit]

Sandusky heard something different. He seized on the fact that at age 14 or 15, the boy began failing academically and having behavior problems.

"See," Sandusky said to no one in particular that day as he looked at the file, "that was after he was with me."

Sandusky clearly meant after Victim No. 9 was no longer under his mentorship and guidance, not as the fallout of sexual abuse he continues to maintain never occurred. Sandusky was clinging to some strange belief that even after all that gut-wrenching testimony, he had been a positive in this kid's life. In Sandusky's mind, it was only after their relationship ended that the boy's life spiraled downward.

This is the delusion and denial of Jerry Sandusky, and it may go public Tuesday if he reads from the statement he's been preparing from jail. He can always choose not to speak at the last moment.

That decision is the most anticipated of the sentencing. Judge Cleland's sentencing – whether it's 400 years or 40 – will keep Sandusky behind bars until his natural death. That much is assured.

There's also an expected appearance and testimony from Victim No. 2, the boy that Penn State assistant Mike McQueary discovered Sandusky abusing in a locker-room shower. Victim No. 2 hadn't come forward prior to the trial. Sandusky was convicted on four counts of abusing him anyway. Other victims might also speak.

Though many want to hear Sandusky speak, what he says is unlikely to provide much closure.

He still maintains his innocence and is still planning an appeal of his convictions. Amendola has suggested he plans to resign after sentencing and claims that time constraints rendered him ineffective counsel and Sandusky didn't receive a fair trial.

So Sandusky is unlikely to apologize to anyone or admit a thing.

Instead we may see the rambling, and often infuriating words of a man who has only publicly addressed the charges in two pretrial interviews, the most famous being an impromptu phone session with Bob Costas on NBC when Sandusky famously delayed in answering whether he was "sexually attracted to young boys."

The interview went so badly for Sandusky, the prosecution used it as evidence.

This will be closely edited by Sandusky's attorneys, as well as his wife, Dottie, who, sources say, will have influence over his decision. There will be no chance for a journalist, let alone deputy attorney general Joseph McGettigan, to offer a surprise question or rebut a statement with facts.

Still, Sandusky's own defense psychologist diagnosed him with "histrionic personality disorder," which means he was incapable of understanding appropriate social boundaries in an attempt to explain the bizarre "love letters" he sent to his victims when they became old enough to attempt to break free of his bond.

Sandusky is as likely to attempt to defend his behavior as a positive, as he did in a quiet mid-trial moment when looking at Victim No. 9's file. He might say that everyone is missing his positive work in the community.

If so, expect renewed outrage from the victims and the public, even as Sandusky is hauled off to prison.

Sandusky family and defense team sources say Sandusky was adamant about taking the stand at the trial. Amendola suggested in opening remarks that Sandusky would testify, and prepared for that inevitability. Even faced with what Amendola called a "Mt. Everest" of evidence, Sandusky believed he could explain away all the accusations.

[Related: Jerry Sandusky convicted on 45 counts of sexual molestation]

However, in the middle of the trial, Sandusky's own adopted son, Matt – once considered a potential defense witness – approached the prosecution alleging he too was abused by Sandusky.

The state couldn't introduce Matt Sandusky at trial without the defense seeking a delay so they could prepare for a new allegation. However, had Sandusky taken the stand, the state could have brought Matt's allegations up on cross-examination and then introduced him as a rebuttal witness.

While Amendola said the family denies Matt's charges, just bringing them up would've finished Sandusky's already remote chances. So Jerry Sandusky had to remain silent.

"It would have been explosive," Amendola acknowledged.

For Sandusky, this may be his last best chance to offer perspective, an explanation or whatever else is running through his mind.

Penn State said it plans on settle all lawsuits with his victims out of court. As long as Sandusky's appeal is continuing, it is unlikely he will agree to testify in any other case, notably the January trials of former Penn State athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz for perjury and failure to report a crime.

The only other way Sandusky could speak publicly would be to subject himself to a media interview from behind bars, and the discussed subject matter would be out of his control.

So on Tuesday, in this little hillside Victorian downtown, where they used to hang offenders in the courtyard of the old county facility, all attention will again focus on Sandusky.

Will he actually speak? And if so, will he cling to the delusion and denial that played a role in getting him here on the edge of a life spent in the hell of prison?

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