HARRISBURG, Pa. — Jerry Sandusky is distraught over the NCAA penalties issued to Penn State’s football program for the school’s handling of his child sexual abuse scandal and maintains his innocence as he awaits sentencing, his defense lawyer said today.
Attorney Joe Amendola told The Associated Press in a phone interview that Sandusky told him that even if people believe he is guilty of the crimes for which he was convicted in June, it would be “ridiculous” to think Penn State administrators engaged in a cover-up.
The NCAA imposed a multi-year bowl ban on Penn State, invalidated 112 wins, fined the school $60 million and took away future scholarships. The university leadership said the alternative could have been a complete ban on playing games and has acquiesced to the penalties.
Today, the NCAA announced it had picked former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell of Maine to monitor Penn State’s compliance with the sanctions.
Sandusky was convicted in June of 45 counts of child sexual abuse, including attacks on boys inside athletics facilities at Penn State, where he played college football and became a successful defensive coach under Joe Paterno.
“He said, ‘To do what they’re doing to Penn State is so unjust,’” Amendola said. “He loves the program and he loves the university.”
Amendola said Sandusky has asked county jail officials to remove him from what is effectively solitary confinement.
“He continues to believe that the truth will come out at some point, and that he’ll get another trial or another opportunity to establish his innocence,” Amendola said.
A spokesman for the attorney general’s office declined to comment.
Amendola said he expects sentencing will occur in September, although a date has not been set. Sandusky, who did not testify on his own behalf during the trial, has been writing a statement to read to Judge John Cleland at sentencing that will address all 10 sets of charges.
“Whether he winds up doing it despite what I tell him, is going to be up to him,” Amendola said. “It’s his life.”
He said there may not be anything Sandusky can say to prevent an extended prison sentence, but Sandusky has “a fighting spirit” and is “cautiously optimistic.”
Michael Boni, lawyer for the young man described in court documents as Victim 1, for which Sandusky was convicted of six counts, said the truth came out during the trial.
“We care, everybody should care, about what he presents at the sentencing hearing, because it’s in all of our interests that he have as long a sentence as possible, hopefully life without parole,” Boni said.
Amendola said work had begun on an appeal, which may not be filed until after sentencing. If Sandusky appeals to Cleland, rather than going directly to Superior Court, he would have 10 days to file, and Cleland then would have four months to rule, Amendola said.
The NCAA said Mitchell will serve as Penn State’s athletics integrity monitor for the coming five years, keeping tabs on the school’s compliance with the sanctions and related matters. Mitchell’s duties will include making four progress reports each year to the NCAA, Big 10 and the university’s trustees.
Also today, Cleland struck from the record a filing made by Sandusky co-counsel Karl Rominger last month that challenged an order by the judge designed to figure out if lawyers were leaking information to the media. Cleland’s order today, citing rules of legal procedure, gave Rominger three weeks to file a new version.
Rominger had argued Cleland’s demand for a sworn statement listing all material he obtained from prosecutors and gave to third parties would violate protections for attorney work products. A call seeking comment from Rominger was not immediately returned.