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College coach Jerry Sandusky says 'conspiracy' behind 60-year sentence for child sex abuse

By Rupert Cornwell in Washington

College football coach Jerry Sandusky will spend the rest of his life behind bars after being sentenced to between 30 and 60 years in jail for abusing 10 young boys in a child sex scandal that shocked America.

The former assistant coach at Penn State University was sentenced three-and-a-half months after a trial which exposed the protections afforded to powerful figures in college sport.

Apology

Theoretically, Sandusky could have been given a term running into centuries, after being found guilty in June on 45 of the 48 separate counts against him.

In his final words to the court, Sandusky (68) offered no apology.

Instead he denied everything, insisting he was the victim of a conspiracy mounted by some of his victims, the university, and the media, and of a rush to justice that gave him no time to prepare a defence. "They can take away my life, they can make me out as a monster, they can treat me as a monster," he declared in a statement yesterday apparently recorded from his jail cell.

"But in my heart, I know I did not do these alleged disgusting acts."

An appeal is likely, but legal experts say it is almost certain to fail.

The scandal, arguably the worst in the history of the multibillion-dollar industry of US college sport, cost the Penn State's legendary chief football coach Joe Paterno his job -- he died of cancer shortly afterwards. The university's president, Graham Spanier, was also forced to step down.

Unprecedentedly heavy sanctions were levied on Penn State by the governing organisation of college football, including a $60m (?46m) fine and the voiding of every win since 1998 when Sandusky first came under suspicion.

Most of his victims were boys he met through a charity, called the Second Mile, that he had set up to help disadvantaged children.

But university authorities, including Mr Paterno, did not press for an investigation, leading to accusations they were far more anxious to protect Penn State's reputation and lucrative football programme than safeguard vulnerable children.

(© Independent News Service)

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