"By speaking and denying his guilt, he's pretty much forcing the judge's hand and the judge pretty much has to give him the maximum sentence," says attorney Barry Covert. "The case has shown Mr. Sandusky ran his program as an attempt to groom more and more victims, so I believe the judge will treat him as a very active pedophile."
Covert warns Sandusky's proclamation of innocence could hurt the former Penn State football assistant down the road. "Any statement he makes would be used against him if he were to win an appeal and there were a retrial," notes Covert.
Covert believes there's no good that can come out of it, but he suspects Sandusky is "an uncontrollable client."
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CBS's Barry Bagnato
Outside the Courthouse
Sandusky lawyer Joe Amendola (pictured Right) said "it's as certain as certain can be" that Sandusky will address Cleland and assert his innocence before he is sentenced.
"What I anticipate he'll say is he's innocent," Amendola said outside the courthouse Monday afternoon, before a closed-door hearing to iron out logistics and other remaining issues.
Amendola said he did not expect any others to speak on Sandusky's behalf, although friends and family members - including his wife, Dottie - have written letters of support. Dottie Sandusky plans to attend the hearing, he said.
Karl Rominger, another Sandusky defense lawyer, said the sentencing and a related proceeding to determine if Sandusky qualifies as a sexually violent predator under Pennsylvania's version of Megan's Law should take less than two hours.
Rominger said a 30-year minimum sentence - which would keep Sandusky behind bars at least until he's nearly 100 - was probably the most the defense could hope for.
Rominger said on WHP radio that Sandusky knows the judge could impose a longer sentence if Sandusky insists he is innocent, but some offenses carry mandatory minimums that are likely to translate into an effective life sentence."Why worry about the niceties of pleasing the court when it won't change your sentence?" Rominger said.
How Much Jail Time Could Might He Get?
Key elements involved, drawn largely from an analysis by the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing:
- Sandusky was convicted of 10 sets of crimes involving 10 victims. Cleland may decide to impose sets of sentences based on each of those criminal episodes, and if so, some of the charges for each episode could be merged for sentencing purposes and not affect how many years he will get.
- The most serious offenses are eight counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, a crime that involves oral or anal sex. Depending when the offenses occurred, they carry mandatory minimum sentences of five or 10 years.
- His other convictions are seven counts of indecent assault, 10 counts of corruption of minors, 10 counts of endangering the welfare of children, nine counts of unlawful contact with minors, and one count of attempted indecent assault.
- The statutory minimum sentences for those 45 counts add up to 220 years; the maximum sentences add up to 440 years, but it's highly unlikely the judge would issue anything like a 220- to 440-year term. In theory, the lowest sentence he could receive is 10 years, where one of the mandatory minimums is imposed and all other counts run concurrent with it.
- There are also "mitigated," "standard" and "aggravated" ranges for each count. For example, for the first count, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse involving Victim 1, the mitigated range is 36 months, the standard range is 48 to 66 months, and the aggravated range is 78 months, but the mandatory minimum is 10 years. If Cleland departs from the standard range for any count, he has to state his reason on the record.
- Cleland will determine which counts, if any, run concurrent with one another and which run consecutively.
- If Sandusky gets at least two years, he will serve his sentence in state prison. Otherwise, he would serve time in a county jail.
Because of who he is and what he's done, Jerry Sandusky could be in particular danger of sexual assault when he is sent off to prison this week.
With thousands of inmates raped behind bars in the U.S. each year, statistics compiled by the federal government show that sex offenders are roughly two to four times more likely than other inmates to fall victim.
Sandusky, the 68-year-old former Penn State assistant football coach, will be sentenced Tuesday for sexually abusing 10 boys in a scandal that rocked the university and brought down coach Joe Paterno. Sandusky is likely to spend the rest of his life in prison.
It's entirely possible that he will serve his time without incident. His lawyer, Joe Amendola, said he expects Sandusky will be housed with nonviolent offenders at a minimum-security prison, and the Pennsylvania Corrections Department said it is committed to the safety of all inmates, though it would not comment on what it plans to do to protect Sandusky.
But it's also true that child molesters are reviled inside prison walls just as they are on the outside, and are often subjected to physical and verbal abuse, including sexual assault. Given the horrific nature of Sandusky's crimes, will the public care what happens to him in prison?
"The Sandusky case is one of those moments when our core beliefs are really tested," said Lovisa Stannow, executive director of Just Detention International, a group that fights prison rape. "This is a moment when it's especially crucial to recognize that nobody ever deserves to be raped. No matter who you are, sexual violence and rape is wrong, it's a crime, and it is something we have to fight."
The U.S. corrections industry has long struggled with sexual violence.
In 2008, more than 200,000 inmates in American prisons, jails and juvenile detention centers were victims of sexual abuse, according to the Justice Department. Male sex offenders were among those at highest risk: Nearly 14 percent reported having been sexually assaulted at least once while incarcerated.
Yet experts say rape isn't an unavoidable consequence of prison life. Justice Department statistics show wide variability in rates of sexual abuse across prisons and jails. Wardens who are committed to ending sexual violence, establishing clear policies against abuse and holding their staffs accountable are likely to see fewer problems.
"It's all about management tone and style and leadership at the top. If you hear about abuse and sort of roll your eyes and look the other way, that sends a signal. If you tell the staff, `I want to get to the bottom of this,' that sends a signal," said Jamie Fellner, a prisons expert at Human Rights Watch.
In some ways, Sandusky, who has been held in isolation in a county jail since he was found guilty in June, is not a prime target for assault. Inmates who are young and small in stature are more likely to be sexually victimized; Sandusky is a senior citizen with an imposing frame. Other inmates at high risk include gay men, those who have been previously victimized and those seen as timid or feminine.
A convicted sex offender who spent 10 years in prison and now works with other released sex offenders through the Pennsylvania Prison Society said he believes Sandusky's chances of assault are low.
"Are people going to bother him? Yeah, but a lot of it's going to be verbal harassment - it's not going to be physical," said the 52-year-old man from the Philadelphia suburbs, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the stigma attached to sex offenses. "Because again, he's an old guy; people aren't into that. The verbal abuse is probably going to be significant. He's going to have to have a thick skin."
Lockups in Pennsylvania and across the nation are under a federal mandate to curb sexual abuse.
The rules, which took effect in August under the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003, require screening to identify inmates at greater risk of sexual assault - and those more likely to sexually offend - with an eye toward keeping them apart in housing and work assignments.
Prisons must also offer at least two means of reporting abuse, preserve evidence, ban retaliation against whistle-blowers, keep juvenile offenders away from adult inmates, and devise plans for adequate staffing and video monitoring. The presumptive punishment for any staffer found to have sexually abused an inmate is firing.
"You had corrections officials saying it's not so bad, it's not so bad, it's not so bad, and then you had the data saying it IS so bad, it is a problem, it is prevalent," said Fellner, who sat on the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission, the panel charged by Congress with devising the new standards. "I think at this point, everybody understands this is serious."
Pennsylvania's policy for preventing sexual abuse dates to 2004. New inmates must be screened, and anyone determined to be at greater risk of sexual victimization is supposed to get his or her own cell, or be placed in protective custody or in a special unit for inmates in danger. Pennsylvania prisons hold about 6,800 sex offenders.
"Inmates and their families should know that we do our utmost to provide for inmate safety," said Corrections Department spokeswoman Susan McNaughton.
But a scandal unfolding at the state prison in Pittsburgh shows that any policy is only as good as the people enforcing it. And prisons have a long way to go in that regard. The national Justice Department survey found that nearly as many inmates were victimized by prison staff as by fellow inmates.
In the Pennsylvania case, prosecutors and lawsuits allege systematic abuse of inmates serving time for sex crimes against children. The suspected ringleader, veteran guard Harry Nicoletti, faces 89 criminal counts after a grand jury concluded he raped and beat inmates, directed other prisoners to soil the food and bedding of his targets, and committed other abuses while working in the prison's F Block, for new inmates.
Nicoletti, 60, and three other guards charged in the case assert they did nothing wrong and accuse the inmates of lying. The defendants are awaiting trial.
The Corrections Department is compiling data on sexual assault in its prisons and has hired a contractor to study conditions behind bars.
Amendola, Sandusky's attorney, said he hopes his client won't become a statistic.