Jerry Sandusky sentenced to at least 30 years in prison

Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky walks into the Centre County Courthouse before being sentenced in his child sex abuse case in Bellefonte, Pa. Sandusky faced more than 350 years in prison for his conviction in June on 45 counts of child sexual abuse. (Oct. 9, 2012) Photo Credit: Getty Images

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BELLEFONTE, Pa. -- Jerry Sandusky was sentenced Tuesday to at least 30 years in prison -- effectively a life sentence -- in the child sexual abuse scandal that brought shame to Penn State and led to coach Joe Paterno's downfall.

A defiant Sandusky gave a rambling statement in which he denied the allegations and talked about his life in prison and the pain of being away from his family.

Three victims spoke, often fighting back tears. One looked Sandusky in the eyes at times.

The 68-year-old former Penn State assistant coach was found guilty in June of 45 counts of child sexual abuse, convicted of molesting 10 boys over a 15-year period. Witnesses said Sandusky used the charitable organization he founded for troubled children as his personal hunting ground to find and groom boys to become his victims.

His arrest 11 months ago, and the details that came out during his trial over the summer, transformed Sandusky's public image from a college coach who had been widely admired for his work with The Second Mile charity into that of a reviled pervert who preyed on the very youngsters who sought his help.

Eight of the boys he was found guilty of molesting testified at his trial, describing a range of abuse. One of the prosecution's star witnesses, former graduate assistant Mike McQueary, testified that he saw Sandusky raping a boy in a locker room shower.

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Sandusky has consistently maintained his innocence and plans to appeal.

Judge John Cleland sentenced him to 30 to 60 years in prison. Under Pennsylvania law, Sandusky cannot be released on parole before the minimum term is up.

"The tragedy of this crime is that it's a story of betrayal. The most obvious aspect is your betrayal of 10 children," Cleland told Sandusky. Cleland said he expected Sandusky to die in prison.

The scandal brought devastation in State College that will take years to fully assess, as Sandusky's victims are pressing civil claims and a January trial is pending for two university administrators charged with failing to properly report suspicions about Sandusky and lying to the grand jury that investigated him.

Soon after the three were arrested in November, the board of trustees fired Paterno. He died of lung cancer in January.

The scandal also toppled university president Graham Spanier and led to crippling NCAA sanctions against the football team.

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