Ex-Penn State Coach Sandusky’s Conviction Upheld on Appeal

Former Pennsylvania State University Coach Jerry Sandusky, who was sentenced to at least 30 years in prison for sexually abusing boys, failed to persuade a state appeals court that he deserved a new trial.

Sandusky said his trial lawyers had inadequate time to prepare and the judge didn’t instruct the jury on how to weigh the victims’ delay in reporting the crimes. Those arguments fell short, the Pennsylvania Superior Court said today.

“The vigorous cross-examination of the victims and the arguments by defense counsel, when combined with the trial court’s instructions on credibility, clearly defined the issues for the jury,” the appeals panel ruled.

Sandusky, 69, who is being held in restricted housing in a maximum-security prison in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, was found guilty in June 2012 of 45 counts of abusing boys for more than a decade.

Norris Gelman, an attorney representing Sandusky in his appeal, called the ruling “disappointing.” The former coach plans to appeal to the state’s highest court, Gelman said in a phone interview.

Attorneys representing Sandusky at the trial said last year that they had less than 4 1/2 months to prepare a case based initially on 52 criminal counts and 10 victims.

Among the issues raised on appeal was Common Pleas Court Judge John Cleland’s alleged error in denying three requests to delay the trial.

Jury Instructions

He also wrongly failed to instruct the jury on character evidence and on prosecutors’ alleged misconduct for adversely commenting on Sandusky’s decision not to testify, the defense claimed.

“We agree, completely, with the trial court’s reasoning,” the appeals court said in affirming the judgment. “The trial court properly instructed the jury. Accordingly, Sandusky’s argument fails.”

The appeals case is Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Sandusky, 343 MDA 2013, Superior Court of Pennsylvania Middle District (Harrisburg).

Editors: Charles Carter, Stephen Farr