BELLEFONTE, Pa. — Jerry Sandusky wants “people to know that he’s not guilty,” a lawyer for the retired Penn State assistant football coach said Monday.
Sandusky — once considered Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno’s heir apparent — was convicted Friday of 45 counts for sexually abusing 10 boys over 15 years.
Karl Rominger, who helped defend the 68-year-old retired defensive coach, visited him at the Centre County jail, where he is being kept under observation and away from other inmates pending a psychological review that will help determine the next step toward his sentencing, which is in about three months.
“He’s defiant and wants the truth to be told. He wants people to know that he’s not guilty,” Rominger said. “That would be his hope.”
Also Monday, Judge John Cleland ordered county probation officers to evaluate whether Sandusky is a sexual predator, a finding that could be a factor in his prison placement. Such orders are pro forma in sex abuse cases. Sex offenders are required to undergo treatment while in prison, so Sandusky, if deemed a predator, would likely be sent to a facility with such a program.
Rominger told The Associated Press that Sandusky said he’s not suicidal and that he wants to get the separate psychological examination done so that he can receive visits from his friends and family.
“He’s fine but he’s just not been evaluated,” Rominger said.
“He is very disappointed to be in prison. He is anxious to get out of this suicide watch,” Rominger said, adding that Sandusky told him: “If I have to keep sitting in this room for another three or four days without being able to talk to anybody, I might start to need help at that point.”
Earlier Monday, Gov. Tom Corbett said that prosecutors needed about two years between the first report of child sexual abuse involving Sandusky and the filing of charges because authorities needed to build an “ironclad case” against him.
Corbett, then the state attorney general, oversaw the start of the investigation after the ex-coach was barred from a high school in 2009 when a mother complained about Sandusky. Charges were filed in November.
“I think it surprises some people, the length of time it took,” Corbett said. “But having been an assistant DA, an assistant U.S. attorney and handling cases like this, I understood that you have to do a complete investigation and get as many witnesses as you possibly can.”
Corbett said the wisdom of the investigation’s deliberate pace was evident in the jury’s decisive verdict on Friday — convicting Sandusky on all but three counts.
Corbett also defended the speed with which Sandusky’s case went from grand jury presentment to trial — seven months.
Sandusky defense attorney Joe Amendola has said he and Rominger didn’t have enough time to prepare for trial and even asked to withdraw from the case because of it.
“I’m not surprised that they would say that,” Corbett said. “Obviously it will be the subject of an appeal at some point in time. … But in this case the jury had the opportunity to hear the compelling testimony of these now young men who were young boys who suffered at the hands of this pedophile.”
The current state attorney general, Linda Kelly, told NBC’s “Today” show that all parties involved knew the judge intended to move quickly. She said prosecutors supported that decision because Sandusky was on house arrest while awaiting trial.
“We were anxious just to bring the case to a conclusion and move to have his bond revoked and taken into custody,” Kelly said.
Based on mandatory minimum sentences, Sandusky is certain to die in prison.
Sandusky’s conviction is only just the start of possibly years of legal proceedings over the case. Besides appeals, there remains an active investigation into Sandusky by the state attorney general’s office as well as a federal investigation.
Corbett said Penn State trustees are still awaiting the results of an internal investigation by former FBI director Louis Freeh into the school’s handling of the Sandusky case.