independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

US college football coach convicted of child sex abuse begins appeal

FORMER Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky’s lawyers have made their first pitch to have his child sex abuse conviction overturned and to obtain a new trial.

Sandusky, 68, was convicted in June of molesting 10 boys over a 15-year period in a scandal that rocked college sports and focused national attention on child sex abuse.

He was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison, effectively a life sentence.

Joseph Amendola, Sandusky's attorney, is expected to argue to trial Judge John Cleland that he was not given enough time to prepare for the trial, which tarnished the legacy of legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno and led the NCAA to impose a raft of unprecedented penalties on the university.

In March 2012, Cleland delayed the start date of the trial by three weeks but later denied another motion by Amendola for a further delay in the trial. Pennsylvania appeals courts rejected his appeal of Cleland's ruling.

Sandusky was brought to a nearby jail so he may attend the proceedings at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, the same courthouse where he was convicted nearly seven months ago and just a few miles from the Penn State campus in State College, Pennsylvania. His wife Dottie was on hand at the court.

A grand jury in November charged the university's former president, Graham Spanier, with participating in a "conspiracy of silence" to cover up Sandusky's behavior.

Two other officials, Athletic Director Tim Curley and retired Vice President Gary Schultz, also face new charges of child endangerment, criminal conspiracy and obstruction.

They were charged in November 2011 with failure to report suspected abuse and perjury, and both have pleaded not guilty. Schultz and Curley face trial on the perjury and failure to report charges later this month.

Trustees fired Spanier and revered head football coach Joe Paterno in November 2011 in the wake of the charges against Sandusky. Paterno died in January of lung cancer.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association, the governing body for college sports, slapped Penn State with a $60 million fine and voided 14 seasons of football victories. At least three of Sandusky's victims have sued Penn State.

Earlier this month, Governor Tom Corbett sued the NCAA over its sanctions.

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