BELLEFONTE, Pa. – A judge flatly rejected Jerry Sandusky's latest request to have his 30- to 60-year child molestation sentence reduced during a brief hearing Tuesday.
Judge Maureen Skerda said she purposely fashioned the prison term to have an impact on the former Penn State assistant football coach and noted Sandusky continues to maintain his innocence.
“This is repeated conduct over a course of years, and the court considered that,” Skerda said. Sandusky was convicted in 2012 of sexual abuse of 10 boys, ranging from grooming to sexual attacks.
Sandusky, 76, participated by phone from the State Correctional Institution-Laurel Highlands but said very little.
His defense attorney, Robert Buttner, argued that grievances and misconduct that Sandusky has been involved in while in prison were relatively minor.
During the November resentencing hearing, the attorney general's office described problems that included disputes about returning a meal tray, resistance to being moved from his cell and complaints about phone calls.
Buttner told Skerda that she should consider his age and that older defendants are far less likely to commit new crimes.
But Skerda recalled that during the November sentencing — ordered by a state appeals court — Sandusky said he has spoken on the phone to his wife while an acquaintance was visiting Dottie Sandusky with an infant.
“So he would still have access to children if he were in the public in the future,” Skerda said. In November, she gave him the same sentence he had received following his 2012 jury trial.
Jennifer Buck, a prosecutor with the state attorney general's office, urged Skerda to keep the sentence in place, noting that it fell within sentencing guidelines. She said the core offenses for which he was convicted were first-degree felonies.
“There's no more serious crime than a felony of the first degree," Buck told the judge.
After the hearing, Dottie Sandusky said she remains convinced her husband was unjustly convicted.
“He is not guilty, and it just will go on and on and on,” Dottie Sandusky said. “I believe in Jerry, and there's a lot to be said about what has gone on, and someday the truth will come out.”
Sandusky's lawyers said he has a month to decide whether to appeal Skerda's decision not to change his sentence. They also plan to pursue legal action in federal courts.
Sandusky's arrest in 2011 led days later to the firing of Hall of Fame head coach Joe Paterno, and the university subsequently paid more than $100 million to people who said they had been abused by Sandusky.
In a filing early last month, Sandusky's defense lawyers argued there were multiple factors that should result in a shorter prison term, including their client's background, upbringing and positive impact on others. They said the total sentence was “manifestly excessive."