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September 17, 2012

Jerry Sandusky's sentencing scheduled for October 9, 2012

This Reuters article reports on the latest scheduling information for what seems likely to be a closely watched, but somewhat unsuspenseful, forthcoming state sentencing in Pennsylvania.  here are the basics:

Convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky will face sentencing immediately after an October 9 hearing to determine if the former Penn State assistant football coach is a sexually violent predator, a judge said on Monday.

The hearing will be held at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, Judge John Cleland said in an order published online. A sentencing conference will be held October 8.

Sandusky, 68, was convicted in June of 45 counts of child molestation as part of a scandal that shook college football and focused national attention on child sex abuse. He faces up to 373 years in prison for sexually abusing 10 boys over a period of 15 years, including while he was the highly regarded defensive coordinator at powerhouse Pennsylvania State University.

Designating Sandusky a sexually violent predator would put him under stringent reporting requirements if he is put on probation after release from prison. The court will consider the recommendation of the state Sexual Offenders Assessment Board. Normally a determination hearing takes place the same day as sentencing, but the scale of Sandusky's case could mean sentencing would take place later.

Dan Filler, a law professor at Philadelphia's Drexel University, said Cleland had options in sentencing, but the outcome would be the same for Sandusky. Cleland could have the 45 sentences run one after the other or at the same time. He also could impose the maximum or minimum under sentencing guidelines, and take Sandusky's lack of prior convictions into consideration, Filler said.

"In the end, however, judges are very politically sensitive in cases like this. Whatever the guidelines call for, I believe the judge will impose a sentence that is functionally life without hope of parole," he wrote in an email before the hearing date was set.

I will be truly shocked if Sandusky does not get a sentence that ensures he will die in prison. The only real suspense will be how the state judge in this case chooses to structure the sentence and whether, like the federal sentencing judge in the Bernie Madoff case, considers maxing out the sentence in order to try to "send a message" to both the victims and society concerning this kind of offense.

September 17, 2012 at 03:46 PM | Permalink

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"'In the end, however, judges are very politically sensitive in cases like this. Whatever the guidelines call for, I believe the judge will impose a sentence that is functionally life without hope of parole,' [Prof. Filler] wrote in an email before the hearing date was set."

This case has absolutely nothing to do with "political sensitivity," and the implication that Sandusky will get maxed out because of politics is absurd. He's going to get maxed out because he's a repeat, forcible boy rapist, who had been in the business for at least 15 years.

There could scarcely be a less apt case for the weary, liberal wail that sentencing in high profile cases is driven by "politics." The sentencing in this case will be driven by a baseline sense of decency, nothing more.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Sep 17, 2012 4:30:41 PM

opposing opinion from another 'uninformed' individual

'Legal System Treats Celebs Differently'


http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/09/legal-system-treats-celebs-differently-dershowitz-says/

Posted by: Opposing opinions | Sep 17, 2012 5:08:27 PM

Thanks for posting this link, Opposing opinions, from which comes these key quotes: “Every celebrity case I’ve been involved in – I’ve been involved in a great many – the one thing you can be sure of is they don’t get the same justice as everybody else,” Dershowitz says. “It could be worse, it could be better, it’s never the same,” he tells Chris Cuomo, in an interview for the ABC News/Yahoo series, “Newsmakers.”

Posted by: Doug B. | Sep 17, 2012 5:48:25 PM

Doug --

Three observations. First, if "celebrity justice" is sometimes better and sometimes worse, that winds up telling us zilch about whether Joe Celebrity is going to be treated better or worse than Joe Average.

Second, if Jerry Sandusky is a "celebrity," I'm Santa Claus. Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Wesley Snipes, sure. Jerry Sandusky? Sandusky is notorious, but I never heard of anyone's thinking he's a "celebrity."

Third, to say that celbrities, however defined, get "different justice" (however THAT gets defined), is a different thing entirely from saying that their justice -- much less Sandusky's justice -- is determined, as Prof. Filler would have it, by "political sensitivity." Do Republicans and Democrats have different views of how Sandusky should wind up? Not that I ever heard of.

Even the most flaming liberals on this board aren't going to touch Sandusky with a ten foot pole, understanding that this is not really the apt case in which to play the usual "prosecutors-are-Nazis" card.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Sep 17, 2012 6:41:55 PM

With all due respect to Bill Otis, Jerry Sandusky was a HUGE celebrity in the state of Pennsylvania, and especially Central Pennsylvania before this whole sordid affair. Besides Joe Paterno, he was the person most associated with Penn State football, who draw over 100,000 people at every game and have ridiculously high TV ratings. Since he is facing a locally elected state judge, the "celebrity" angle is important in this sentencing.

Posted by: Kelly | Sep 18, 2012 9:03:25 AM

Kelly --

I grew up in Pennsylvania, and Happy Valley is its own, largely isolated world. Do you think even one percent of Pennsylvanians could have named a single assistant coach at Penn State?

"Since he is facing a locally elected state judge, the 'celebrity' angle is important in this sentencing."

What specific information do you have that the judge is going to consider anything other than the proved facts of the case in imposing sentence?

I mean, please. Sandusky is 68 years old. He was convicted of, for practical purposes, 15 years of forcibly raping boys. I doubt there is any jurisdiction in the country deluded enough to give ANYONE convicted of such a crime spree anything less than an effective life sentence (which in his case would be 25 years or more). Do you disagree? If not, Sandusky's alleged "celebrity" status isn't going to push his sentence any higher than it would be if he were Joe Schmoe.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Sep 18, 2012 9:44:41 AM

There are a little less than 13 million people in PA, so 1% of the citizens would be 130,000. I would venture to say that the answer is YES, more than 1% of the state of Pennsylvania had heard of Sandusky before this mess. Now, let's talk about Centre County where this is located and I would venture to say over 50% of that population had heard of him either through the 2nd Mile initiative or his job at PSU. I wasn't making an argument that his sentence WOULD be affected by his celebrity status, I was simply making the point that he had celebrity status in Centre County and PA as a whole before this situation.

Posted by: Kelly | Sep 18, 2012 12:34:30 PM

Kelly --

"I wasn't making an argument that his sentence WOULD be affected by his celebrity status..."

Then we have no disagreement that matters.

"...I was simply making the point that he had celebrity status in Centre County and PA as a whole before this situation."

I don't know about Pennsylvania generally, but I'll be happy to concede arguendo that he was a celebrity in Centre County.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Sep 18, 2012 1:33:56 PM

and yet again bill strives to drive a single point home that his view is the logical one...no matter how insignificant it may be...tsk, tsk.

Posted by: tsk, tsk | Sep 18, 2012 2:17:45 PM

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