Former US Football Coach Gets Decades in Prison for Child Sex Abuse

Posted October 9th, 2012 at 12:10 pm (UTC-5)
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Former U.S. college football coach Jerry Sandusky has been sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison after being found guilty earlier this year of sexually abusing young boys.

The sentence, handed down by a judge in Pennsylvania Tuesday, means the 68-year-old retired Pennsylvania State University assistant coach will likely spend the rest of his life behind bars.

The ruling comes more than three months after a jury convicted Sandusky on 45 counts of child sex abuse for molesting 10 boys over 15 years.

Prosecutors say Sandusky met many of his accusers through a charity he founded for troubled kids, with some of the abuse occurring in Penn State facilities.

Both Sandusky and several of his victims made statements during Tuesday's hearing.

The former coach has repeatedly maintained his innocence, and on Monday he released an audio statement on Penn State's student radio station in which he denied doing what he described as “these alleged disgusting acts.”

The allegations against Sandusky sent shock waves through the Penn State community and across the country when they surfaced last November. The scandal led to the firing of iconic Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno and university president Graham Spanier.

Paterno, who died of lung cancer earlier this year, was fired for failing to take tougher action after a graduate assistant told him he saw Sandusky sexually assaulting a 10-year-old boy in a locker room shower. Paterno was criticized for not informing outside authorities about the incident, although he informed the school's athletic director and a university vice president.

The Sandusky case is one of several child sex abuse scandals in recent years involving authority figures in well-respected institutions. Reports of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy began surfacing a decade ago in the United States and Europe. Victims groups say the church paid little attention to decades of priests' sexual and physical abuse of children and tried to protect the guilty.

And just last month, the Los Angeles Times reported that over 20 years, the Boy Scouts of America failed to report hundreds of suspected child molesters to police and often helped cover up the allegations.