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US child abuse coach gets 30 years

The US sports coach at the centre of a child abuse scandal has been sentenced to at least 30 years in jail.

If he lives, 68-year-old Jerry Sandusky will be aged more than 100 on his release.

The scandal brought shame to Penn State university and led to head coach Joe Paterno's downfall.

The sentencing comes three months after a jury convicted Sandusky, a former assistant coach, on 45 counts of child sexual abuse.

Sandusky maintains his innocence and plans to appeal, a process his lawyer has said will probably begin in the coming weeks. Sandusky said he is not a monster and he did not do the "alleged disgusting acts."

Witnesses said Sandusky used the charitable organisation he founded for troubled children as his personal hunting ground to find and groom boys to become his victims.

The case, which tarnished the reputation of one of the best-known college football programmes in the US and stunned a nation where college sports are revered, led to the firing of Paterno, the team's long-time head football coach, who died from lung cancer in January.

Sandusky's arrest 11 months ago, and the details that came out during his trial over the summer, transformed his 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.

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 Gary Schultz and Tim Curley, two university administrators charged with failing to properly report suspicions about Sandusky and lying to the grand jury that investigated him.

Over the summer, an investigation commissioned by the university and led by former FBI Director Louis Freeh concluded that Paterno and other top officials covered up allegations against Sandusky for years to avoid bad publicity.

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