Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was sentenced Tuesday morning to 30 to 60 years in prison for sexually abusing young boys, but not before giving a rambling statement in front of the judge for about 15 minutes.
"For the rest of your life," Judge John Cleland told the 68-year-old Sandusky as he read the terms of the sentence.
Sandusky, who coached Penn State's defense for 30 years and ran a charity for troubled children, was sentenced on 45 counts of child sex abuse, a scandal that rocked the Penn State football program and the university itself.
Sandusky gave the convulated, rambling statement in court, one day after proclaiming his innocence in a defiant audio statement released from prison. He wore a red prison jump suit and appeared visibly thinner.
"I feel a need to talk not from arrogance, but from my heart," Sandusky said in the courtroom. "I didn't do these alleged disgusting acts."
"I've been confined to a small room. I meditate, eat, read, write, all in a small room. ... You find out who's with you in the fourth quarter. Who'll go through the hurt and the pain, and get you where you want to go."
NBC News Legal Analyst Wes Oliver characterized Jerry Sandusky’s statement in court as an emotionally unstable effort to preserve his legacy.
“I mean he didn’t even seem with it. There was a time when he said, I remember this quote well, ‘I’ve been kissed by dogs, I’ve been bitten by dogs,’ I mean, it just seemed very bizarre," Oliver said.
Lead prosecutor, Joe McGettigan said Sandusky's statement was a "masterpiece of banal self-delusion."
Legal experts say Judge Cleland could have imposed a much stiffer sentence on Sandusky but instead chose to stick with sentencing guidelines. Matt Casey, an attorney for Victims 3, 7 and 10, spoke to NBC10 shortly after the verdict was announced.
“They have confidence that Judge Cleland took his obligations seriously. Jerry Sandusky is never going to get out of prison. If you walk through the individual accounts there may be some sentences that we might take issue with but in aggregate the man is going to die in prison -- that he will never be able to do this to anyone else, that probably was the most important part of this for our clients, that he would never be able to do it to anyone else," said Casey.
In his audio statement released Monday, Sandusky said there was a conspiracy against him. IN the sentencing hearing, Cleland called this theory "unbelievable."
"The crime is not only what you did to the bodies, but the crime is also the assault to their psyches and their souls," Cleland said. "The tragedy of this crime is that it is a crime of betrayal."
Prosecutor Joseph McGettigan said that Sandusky used his charity, Second MIle, as a "victim factory."
"He selected the most vulnerable to prey on," McGettigan said. "If the words existed that would undo the harm and pain, I would say them."
After the sentencing, Penn State President Rodney Erickson issued a statement saying in part, "While today's sentence cannot erase what has happened, hopefully it will provide comfort to those affected by these horrible events and help them continue down the road to recovery."
In his audio statement and his statement in court, Sandusky continued to deny what he called "false allegations." He said his wife Dottie is the only person he's ever had sex with and that he was brought down by a web of conspirators who wanted him convicted. He also blamed his downfall on one of the victims.
"There is another side to this," said Joseph Amendola, Sandusky's attorney. "We have a gentleman who, by many accounts, was a generous, kind, giving person. It's a sad day for everyone."
Sandusky oversaw Penn State's powerful defense for 30 years. He was accused of preying on young boys whom he met through his Second Mile Charity, a group devoted to helping under-privileged children.
The allegations that he raped some of these boys, forcing himself on one in a Penn State locker room shower and another in his own basement, shocked the Penn State community, where Sandusky had been revered in the community. Through his charity, he would take kids to football games, helped them find their way through tough lives and even adopted them.
The late head coach Joe Paterno, arguably the most important figure in modern Penn State history, was fired amid allegations he did not properly report concerns about Sandusky to law enforcement officials. Two other top Penn State officials, athletic director Tim Curley and senior vice president Gary Schultz, have yet to face trial on charges they lied to a grand jury about their knowledge of Sandusky's crimes.
The NCAA hit Penn State with a $60 million fine, vacated all wins going back to 1998 and reduced the number of scholarships.
Sandusky is 68 and his sentence today is expected to keep him in prison for the rest of his life. Sandusky's legal team is expected to start the appeals process after the sentencing.