By Jeff Mullin, columnist
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Today is the first day of the rest of Jerry Sand-usky’s life.
This is the day the convicted child sex abuser and disgraced former Penn State assistant football coach learns how many lifetimes he must spend behind bars in penance for his unspeakable crimes.
Sandusky faces up to 373 years in prison after being convicted in June on 45 counts of sexually abusing children.
His attorney, who is planning to appeal his client’s conviction, says Sandusky has been working on a statement he plans to deliver at his sentencing.
But attorney Joe Amendola assured USA Today Sandusky’s statement would neither be a plea for mercy, nor a mea culpa.
“He is not going to apologize,” Amendola told the paper, with special emphasis on the word “not.”
“He’s always said he was innocent,” Amendola continued.
Innocent is not a word that should be used in connection with this sad, tawdry case.
Sandusky certainly is not innocent. Some of his victims testified against him at trial, giving rather graphic and deeply disturbing accounts of their encounters with the one-time coach. Even his own adopted son was prepared to testify that he was molested by Sandusky. A jury of his peers determined the preponderance of the evidence indicated Sandusky was far from innocent.
The victims, at least two of whom plan to speak at the sentencing hearing, are certainly not innocent. Jerry Sandusky saw to that when he sexually abused them. He stole their innocence from them when he put his own perverse desires over and above their needs and his responsibilities to protect and nurture these young men.
Penn State is not innocent, though the school is trying desperately to move past the scandal, paying millions of dollars in fines and filling its football stadium on fall Saturday afternoons as the newest Nittany Lions struggle to restore their on-field reputation, despite player defections and strict scholarship reductions.
Penn State is 4-2 on the field, first-year coach Bill O’Brien’s young squad doing all it can to put the whole Sandusky mess in its rear-view.
But the stain will linger, perhaps far longer than Sandusky spends behind bars, whatever his sentence, given the fact he is 68.
Jerry Sandusky used to bask in the cheers of Penn State football fans, as he crafted defenses that helped the Lions win many games.
He’ll hear the cheers no more. Reports are that he may have to spend the rest of his life in solitary confinement, for his own protection. Child abusers are considered the lowest form of life in prison, given that many inmates were themselves abused as children. Their life expectancy behind bars is short. Given Sandusky’s worldwide infamy, that figures to put an even bigger target on his back.
Thus, this man, who once was praised for molding young men into winners, while at the same time stealing the childhoods of boys because of his own depravity, likely will be left listening only to the sound of his own breathing, of his feet shuffling on the floor of his cell.
Jerry Sandusky deserves the maximum sentence. He will live out the rest of his life in prison, but at least it will be a cage of his own making.
His victims, far younger than he, will live decades, their lives scarred by the memories of the liberties taken by this monster with the soft voice and the big smile.
Jerry Sandusky and his young victims will be released from their respective prisons on the same occasion — the day they die.
Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at email@example.com.