BELLEFONTE, Penn. — Jerry Sandusky gets a shot at regaining some of his freedom Thursday, when his lawyers launch an appeal to reverse his conviction on multiple counts of child sex abuse.
The coach was sentenced in October to no less than 30 years and no more than 60 years in prison for abusing 10 boys during a 15-year period. He originally faced the possibility of up to a 400-year prison term.
The former Penn State assistant football coach will appear at the Center County court in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, where his legal team will make a “post-sentence motion.”
Judge John Cleland, who presided over Sandusky’s conviction and sentencing will not rule on it until a yet-unannounced future date.
Sandusky’s lawyers argue that there was insufficient evidence to convict him, and that the court didn’t allow them enough time to prepare for trial, after the prosecution flooded them with documentation.
They also maintain that certain counts were too broad and general and should therefore have been dismissed. The lack of specifics further prevented Sandusky from preparing an adequate defense, they have said.
But Cleland could easily rule that evidence presented at the criminal trial was so overwhelming — the victims’ testimony, for instance — that it would not have changed the end result, said Karl Rominger, one of Sandusky’s lawyers.
The eight victims who testified, now young men, said that they were boys when Sandusky forced them to engage in sexual acts with him.
The acts occurred, they said, in showers in Penn State’s athletic facilities; hotel rooms; and the basement of Sandusky’s home, among other places.
Testimony was often emotional and graphic, and jurors convicted him of 45 of the 48 sexual abuse counts.
This first attempt to overturn the conviction based on ineffective counsel, a common appeals tactic, will be tough, his lawyers have said, but if the court rejects it, they can launch new appeals based on different aspects of the law.
“If you win on one of the appeal issues, everything probably falls,” defense attorney Joe Amendola has said. “All we have to do is convince an appellate court that one of the issues we will raise is worthy of a reversal.”
Amendola and Rominger have also filed a motion to have the 68-year-old Sandusky’s sentence reconsidered.
The lawyers attempted to withdraw from the case before the trial, telling Cleland the day before jury selection began that they did not feel adequately prepared and that it would be “unethical” for them to move forward. Cleland denied their request.
The sex abuse scandal led to the firing of head football coach Joe Paterno and the ouster of the university’s longtime president, Graham Spanier.
Paterno died in January of lung cancer. The NCAA slapped Penn State with fines and sanctions over the case.