BELLEFONTE, Pa. — Jurors convicted Jerry Sandusky on 45 counts of child sexual abuse Friday, ending his high-profile trial but opening another painful chapter in which more victims might come forward and Penn State University could find itself the defendant.
Sandusky, 68, is likely to spend the rest of his life in prison. Judge John Cleland revoked bail, so Sandusky will be jailed until his sentencing.
The most serious charges carry penalties of up to 20 years in prison. A sentencing date has not been set.
Since his arrest in November, Sandusky has maintained his innocence. But a jury of seven women and five men, many with ties to Penn State, decided otherwise, finding him guilty of all but three of the 48 charges against him.
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The jury's verdict came shortly before 10 p.m. Friday. He was found not guilty of the most serious charge, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse of one alleged victim, and counts of indecent assault against two others.
Sandusky looked down as the jury foreman read the verdict.
The case shocked a community and a country that had become accustomed to college sports scandals, but none like this. The possibility that an assistant football coach and trusted community leader could have abused so many children over so many years without anyone suspecting — or acting on their suspicions — sent a chill down the nation's spine.
It also called into question the judgment of university officials who learned more than a decade ago of Sandusky's behavior but failed to report it to police. Two former university officials, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, were charged with perjury in the case, and a third — former Penn State President Graham Spanier — also could face charges.
Sandusky's conviction has far-reaching implications for Penn State. Many of the assaults occurred on campus property. The verdict could result in damage awards to the victims in the tens of millions of dollars.
Sandusky's defense team argued in court that he was a virtuous man who helped children through a charity he founded, and that his accusers embellished or made up stories of child sex abuse to collect generous settlements.
Defense attorneys poked holes in the accusers' testimony, noting inconsistencies and challenging how the frequency and severity of the abuse evolved over time with prodding from police and prosecutors.
But jurors also heard from eight young men who were participants in Sandusky's charity, The Second Mile. They testified that Sandusky bought them gifts and meals, took them on trips and gave them football tickets, then sexually assaulted them in locker room showers, in hotel rooms and in Sandusky's home.
Jurors heard graphic testimony from the young men about how Sandusky began with mild affection, such as bear hugs and kisses on the forehead, and progressed to more sexual contact. They said Sandusky fondled them and performed oral sex on them — and he expected them to do the same. They said he attempted anal penetration with his fingers or his penis. Some were as young as 10 or 11 when the abuse began, and it continued for years.
Jurors also heard from former assistant coach Mike McQueary, who testified that he witnessed Sandusky raping a boy in the shower in a campus football building in 2001. He reported the assault to head coach Joe Paterno, but Sandusky was never charged. Paterno told university officials, but they only barred Sandusky from bringing Second Mile children to campus. Neither Paterno nor McQueary followed up on the matter or took it to police.
McQueary's testimony was a sticking point for the jurors, because they did not hear from the alleged victim, who has never been identified. Testimony from McQueary's father and a family friend might have muddied the waters. The jurors spent most of Friday morning reviewing some of that testimony.
Jurors also asked for clarification over another alleged locker room shower assault in which the alleged victim did not testify, nor did the retired janitor who saw the alleged assault. That witness lives in a nursing home, and jurors heard from one of his former colleagues instead.
The sequestered jurors were unaware of two additional accusers who came forward in the waning days of the trial — one of them Jerry Sandusky's 33-year-old adopted son, Matt.
The fallout of Sandusky's arrest, trial and conviction tarnishes the reputation of a university that most people considered aboveboard, said John Thelin, an education professor at the University of Kentucky and the author of books and articles on college sports scandals.
"The irony is that Penn State got so much mileage out of being clean," Thelin said. "It's going to be a lasting toll on the institution and its self-confidence."
The impact of Sandusky's arrest was felt immediately last fall, when the Penn State board of trustees abruptly fired both Spanier and Paterno, its beloved head football coach of 46 years. Paterno, 85, was never charged in the Sandusky case, and he never got to testify in the trial. But before he died of lung cancer in January, he said he regretted not doing more.
Other college football scandals last year cost coaches their jobs, but Thelin said the Penn State scandal might have been a watershed moment.
"Successful coaches are some of the most untouchable figures in American life," he said. "I wonder if this will alter that."