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Jerry Sandusky sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison on 45 counts of child molestation

Dan Wetzel
Yahoo Sports

BELLEFONTE, Pa. – Jerry Sandusky will spend the rest of his life behind bars.

The 68-year-old former Penn State defensive coordinator was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison on Tuesday. Judge John Cleland delivered the sentence here in a packed courtroom of the Centre County Courthouse. Sandusky was found guilty in June of 45 counts of sexually molesting 10 boys over a 15-year period.

The maximum sentence was 442 years. Sandusky has currently served 112 days.

"You will serve not less than 30 and no more than 60 years in prison," Cleland told Sandusky. "That has the unmitigated impact of saying 'the rest of your life in prison.' "

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Jerry Sandusky leaves the Centre County Courthouse after his sentencing hearing. (Getty Images)

The state prison system of Pennsylvania generally forces inmates to remain behind bars long beyond the minimum sentence, Sandusky's attorney Joe Amendola said.

"Realistically, even if Jerry was to survive the 30 years, he won't be released," Amendola said.

Deputy attorney general Joseph McGettigan took no issue with the sentence. "The defendant will remain incarcerated for the rest of his life," McGettigan said.

Sandusky spoke for about 15 minutes in court and remained as defiant about his conviction as he did Monday when he released an audio statement that lashed out at the victims and their families. He again promised to appeal his conviction.

"They can make me out to be a monster," Sandusky said in court. "They can treat me as a monster. But they can't take away my heart. In my heart, I know I did not do these alleged and disgusting acts."

Three of Sandusky's victims spoke directly to him in court. Statements from another victim and a victim's mother were also read in court.

"I don't forgive you and I don't know if I will forgive you," Victim No. 4 told Sandusky. "I grew up in a bad situation and you made it worse."

[More: Timeline of Sandusky case | Wetzel on YSR]

Victim No. 4 was the first known boy Sandusky abused, and he did not reveal the abuse until years later.

"While I stand here and won't forgive you," Victim No. 4 said, "I ask the others after me to forgive me for not coming forward sooner."

Sandusky was a talented assistant coach at Penn State from 1969-99 under legendary coach Joe Paterno, helping the Nittany Lions win two national championships. In 1977, he founded the Second Mile charity to aid at-risk children.

Prosecutors built their case on Sandusky using Second Mile to draw out vulnerable kids, who were often poor and without a father, to prey upon them. He also used his fame and access to the Penn State football program to lure them. Victims not only received game tickets, they went on road trips, attended practice and worked out in the team weight room, often followed by a shower with Sandusky where sexual abuse occurred.

That combination often kept preteen victims around Sandusky, even as they were being abused.

"I thought, 'I didn't want to lose this,' " Victim No. 4 testified at trial about staying with Sandusky despite repeated sexual abuse. "This is something good happening to me."

On Tuesday in court, McGettigan described Second Mile as a "victim factory." "It was cruel beyond imagination," McGettigan said.

Sandusky will continue to spend the next 10 days in county jail, where he has been in solitary confinement since the verdict. His defense team believes he'll end up in a minimum-security prison because of his age and lack of a violent history. While Sandusky has been in isolation at the Centre County Detention Center, he has expressed an interest in serving out his prison time among the general population.

Prison officials will consider what risk Sandusky – a convicted sexual predator – would be under if left alone among the other inmates, even at one of the less-violent facilities.

Judge Cleland also said the length of the sentence, given Sandusky's age, will keep him behind bars until his death.

"I'm not going to talk to a 68-year-old man about dozens and dozens of decades in prison," Cleland said. "It has no practical value."

Sandusky wore red jail garb at the hearing and appeared thinner. Family sources said he works out twice a day at the jail, but has lost weight because he doesn't like the food.

Sandusky waved to his family as he left court.

Sandusky has maintained his innocence and plans on appealing his conviction. That process can now begin after his lengthy prison term has been handed down. Amendola said he will argue that Sandusky didn't have enough time to prepare for trial.

[Related: Jerry Sandusky issues defiant statement from jail]

Sandusky released an audio statement via a Penn State radio station Monday that promised a continued legal battle as he blasted what he believed were opportunistic and lying accusers and a conspiracy between overzealous police and the media to railroad him.

"We will continue to fight," he said Monday. "We didn't lose the proven facts, evidence, accurate locations and times. Anything can be said. We lost to speculation and stories that were influenced by people who wanted to convict me."

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Dottie Sandusky, the wife of Jerry Sandusky, arrives at the courthouse for her husband's sentencing. (AP)

The jury rejected that defense during the two-week trial here in June.

The jury was moved by intense, often haunting, testimony from nine victims during the trial. The testimony was bolstered by eye witnesses and other evidence, including so-called "love letters" Sandusky wrote to the victims and Second Mile logs of the children, which included stars next to the names of some of his accusers.

The Sandusky scandal, which became public with his grand jury indictments in November 2011, overwhelmed Penn State, its vaunted football program and this idyllic community known as "Happy Valley."

[Video: Listen to Jerry Sandusky's audio statement]

Paterno, then the winningest coach in college football history, was fired within days. So, too, was the school president, Graham Spanier. Athletic director Tim Curley and school vice president Gary Schultz were both charged with felonies for failure to report a crime and perjury. Both maintain their innocence and are scheduled to stand trial in January.

The NCAA delivered significant sanctions on the Penn State program after the school released a scathing self-commissioned report that concluded a lack of oversight and a cover-up for Sandusky. Paterno, who passed away in January of 2012, was stripped of victories and had his statue outside Beaver Stadium taken down.

That was only football. Here in Bellefonte, Tuesday was something bigger, the final judgment of a predator who preyed on the region's most vulnerable citizens. As with the initial verdict, a crowd gathered outside the courthouse in this small Victorian downtown to hear firsthand the long-term fate of Jerry Sandusky.

"The tragedy of this crime," Judge Cleland told the court, "is it is a story of betrayal."

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