The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled that Jerry Sandusky be re-sentenced on the basis that in 2012 the judge improperly imposed mandatory minimum terms that sent the former Penn State football coach away for 30-60 years.
In the same ruling, the court rejected Sandusky’s appeal for a new trial. Sandusky, now 75, was convicted by a Centre County Jury of 45 counts of sexual molestation and remains imprisoned in Western Pennsylvania.
The re-sentencing order does not mean that Sandusky will face less time in prison. It just sends the issue back to the court to be restructured without the mandatory minimums.
Sandusky originally faced a maximum of 442 years in prison.
“We look forward to appearing for the new sentencing proceedings and arguing to the court why this convicted sex offender should remain behind bars for a long time,” Joe Grace, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office told the Associated Press.
Judge John Cleland, who oversaw the original trial, opted for a sentence far lower than the maximum, perhaps to avoid appeal on delivering too harsh of a penalty.
Since Sandusky was already 68, he was unlikely to survive the 30 years needed to ask for parole and even then was unlikely to receive it, due to the severity of the case, his notoriety and the number of victims (10 in the criminal trial, nearly three dozen more in civil settlements by Penn State).
“Realistically, even if Jerry was to survive the 30 years, he won’t be released,” Sandusky’s then attorney, Joe Amendola, said on the day of the 2012 sentencing.
Sandusky’s attorneys successfully argued that a 2013 United States Supreme Court ruling in Allenye v. United States was applicable to the case. That case required that a judge cannot use mandatory minimum sentencing on an offense that was not specifically decided by a jury.
As such, the minimum sentencing guidelines did not apply to all portions of this sentencing, which occurred prior to the Allenye ruling, and thus Sandusky’s sentence needs to be readjusted.
It could result in more, less or the same amount of time considering the leeway Cleland had, as long as the mandatory minimum designation is not used.
“I suppose it depends on the judge and what happens before the sentencing and after the sentencing,” Sandusky’s current lawyer, Al Lindsay, told the Associated Press.
Sandusky was originally indicted in November 2011 as part of a major sexual molestation scandal that rocked Penn State and college football. Sandusky was the longtime defensive coordinator for legendary coach Joe Paterno, who was fired in the aftermath and succumbed to cancer a few months later.
Penn State’s president, vice president and athletic director were all also convicted of crimes in the case. The school, meanwhile, paid out tens of millions in civil settlements, lost a major whistleblower lawsuit to former assistant Mike McQueary and dealt with harsh NCAA sanctions.
Sandusky has maintained his innocence throughout and said in a statement that he will continue his appeals for a new trial. Sandusky’s argument cites ineffective counsel and the court’s numerous denials for continuance that prevented him the time needed to prepare a defense. The June 2012 trial came just over seven months after his initial arrest.
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