BELLEFONTE, Pa. (AP) - Jerry Sandusky has been sentenced to at least 30 years in prison in the child sexual abuse scandal that brought shame to Penn State and led to coach Joe Paterno's downfall.
The sentence means the 68-year-old former Penn State assistant coach will be in prison at least until he's nearly 100 years old.
Judge John Cleland issued the sentence Tuesday, three months after a jury convicted Sandusky on 45 counts of child sexual abuse.
Sandusky maintains his innocence and plans to appeal, a process his lawyer has said will probably begin in the coming weeks.
Sandusky is professing his innocence, says he is not a monster and says he didn't do the "alleged disgusting acts."
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10/9/2012 9:26:33 AM (GMT -5:00)
Courtesy: ABC News
A noticeably-thinner Jerry Sandusky arrived in Centre County court in a red jumpsuit this morning, carrying a manila envelope likely containing his declaration of innocence he will read to the court during his sentencing today.
The former Penn State football defensive coordinator is facing 10 to 400 years in prison for the 45 counts of child abuse he was convicted of in June. At age 68, any significant sentence could mean life in prison.
Sandusky's wife, Dottie, smiled at people gathered at the courthouse as she entered with her daughter, Kara, who waved. The pair arrived with Sandusky's attorney, Joseph Amendola, for the hearing.
Judge John Cleland is first expected to make a determination as to whether Sandusky is a sexually violent predator, a classification that would result in him registering as a sex offender if he were ever released from prison.
Following the classification, the sentencing phase of the hearing will begin, with both Sandusky and his victims set to make statements about his future in prison.
Sandusky released a statement Monday night to a Penn State radio station that reflected his belief that he is innocent and the victim of a conspiracy. He said he believed his victims were lying for their own gain and that the police and the media joined in a witch hunt.
"They can take away my life, they can make me out as a monster, they can treat me as a monster, but they can't take away my heart," Sandusky said on the recording. "In my heart, I know I did not do these alleged, disgusting acts. My wife has been my only sex partner and that was after marriage. Our love continues."
Sandusky's family members have also written letters to the judge on his behalf, Amendola said. They will not testify at the hearing.
Sandusky's denial of guilt drew an angry response from Thomas Kline, the attorney for one of his victims, who called the statement, "a lashing out on the eve on his sentencing."
"There is no chance that Mr. Sandusky was innocent," Kline said. "It is preposterous to suggest that 10 separate victims, their families, their parents, their lawyers, the prosecutors, and the press and everyone else conspired to somehow convict Mr. Sandusky."
Kline's client, the man known as Victim 5, will testify with about six other victims in the case, according to prosecutors.
After the testimony, Cleland will hand down a sentence. He could choose to sentence Sandusky to as few as 10 years in prison if he orders concurrent prison time, in which Sandusky would serve the sentence for each count at the same time.
But if Cleland instead chooses to sentence him to consecutive terms, Sandusky could face more than 400 years in prison.
Sandusky will undergo extensive evaluations after sentencing, including his medical and mental health needs, health care, security level, and program needs, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.
Sandusky's security will likely be an issue as authorities decide where to place him in the state prison population, as his case could make him a target for other inmates.
There are 25 prisons for men in Pennsylvania that Sandusky could be sent to, none of which have a special housing unit or facility for sex offenders, the department said.
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