2012-09-06 / Local & State

Ex-Penn State Coach Fits Sex Predator Status


HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (AP) – The former Penn State assistant football coach convicted of sexually abusing boys has been recommended for designation as a sexually violent predator, a legal status that would require lifetime registration with authorities, according to a person who has read an assessment board’s report to a judge in the case.

The recommendation from the Sexual Offenders Assessment Board was disclosed to The Associated Press on Thursday by the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the report’s confidential nature.

Jerry Sandusky, 68, was convicted in June of sexually abusing 10 boys over a 15- year period. He is jailed awaiting sentencing and maintains his innocence.

Sandusky, given his age and the serious nature of the crimes of which he was convicted, is likely to receive a sentence that will keep him in prison for life. No sentencing date has been announced.

Prosecutors said Sandusky used his status as a Penn State football icon and the charity for youth he founded to attract victims. He was arrested in November after a grand jury investigation that also led to charges of perjury and failure to report suspected abuse against university administrators.

The Sandusky scandal the legacy of the late Joe Paterno, the Hall of Famer who put Penn State on the U.S. collegiate sports map and coached the Nittany Lions until his firing in November days after his former assistant was arrested on child sex abuse charges. Paterno died of lung cancer in January.

Pennsylvania law designates certain offenders as sexually violent predators if they are considered to have mental abnormalities or personality disorders that make them likely to engage in predatory sexually violent offenses.

If prosecutors pursue the sexually violent predator status and Sandusky opposes it, Judge John Cleland will decide whether it is merited.

Sexual Offenders Assessment Board spokesman Leo Dunn said the board does not comment on any case, but he noted it has never failed to complete an assessment within 90 days, as required. The judge ordered Sandusky’s evaluation by the board on June 22, shortly after the jury verdict.

Dunn said such evaluations are assigned to an investigator, who then reports his or her findings to a board member. The board member produces an evaluation, which includes a recommendation.

Some sex offenders must register under a Pennsylvania law for 10 years, but that requirement is lifelong for sexually violent predators, who must update their residences to the state police on a quarterly basis and prove they are participating in approved counseling.

Also, the chief law enforcement official in the community where a sexually violent predator lives is required to notify the public by producing a flier that bears the offender’s name, address, photograph and offense.

Eight young men testified against Sandusky, describing a range of abuse that went from grooming and manipulation to fondling, oral sex and anal rape when they were boys and included acts that occurred inside Penn State team showers.

One young man testified his muffled screams from the basement of the Sandusky home in State College, where Penn State is based, went unanswered as Sandusky attacked him.

In July, Penn State’s own investigative report, conducted by former FBI director Louis Freeh said Joe Paterno and three other school officials concealed allegations against Sandusky. Ten days later, the school took down the bronzed statue of Paterno outside Beaver Stadium.

Then, the top governing body for U. S. collegiate sports announced it had accepted the findings and levied unprecedented penalties on the program including a four-year bowl ban, significant scholarship cuts and a $60 million fine. The National Collegiate Athletic Association vacated every Penn State win from 1998- 2011, and Paterno was stripped of 111 career victories – meaning he no longer holds the record for most coaching wins in major college football.

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