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Sport coach guilty of abusing boys

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Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was found guilty of 48 counts of sexual assault (AP/Gene J Puskar)

Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was found guilty of 48 counts of sexual assault (AP/Gene J Puskar)

Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was found guilty of 48 counts of sexual assault (AP/Gene J Puskar)

A US football coach has been convicted of sexually assaulting 10 boys over 15 years, accusations that sent shock waves through the college campus known as Happy Valley and led to the firing of Penn State's beloved Hall of Fame coach, Joe Paterno.

Jerry Sandusky, a 68-year-old retired defensive coach who was once Paterno's heir apparent, was found guilty of 48 counts. He faces life in prison at sentencing, which is weeks away.

Sandusky showed little emotion as the verdict was read. The judge ordered him to be taken to the county jail to await sentencing in about three months.

Eight young men testified in a central Pennsylvania courtroom about a range of abuse. For two other alleged victims, prosecutors relied on testimony from a university janitor and then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary, whose account of a sexual encounter between Sandusky and a boy of about 10 ultimately led to the Paterno's dismissal and the university president's removal.

Sandusky did not take the stand in his own defence.

He had repeatedly denied the allegations, and his defence suggested that his accusers had a financial motive to make up stories, years after the fact. His lawyer also painted Sandusky as the victim of overzealous police investigators who coached the alleged victims into giving accusatory statements. But jurors believed the testimony that, in the words of lead prosecutor Joseph McGettigan III, Sandusky was a "predatory paedophile".

One accuser testified that Sandusky molested him in the locker-room showers and in hotels while trying to ensure his silence with gifts and trips to games. He also said Sandusky had sent him "creepy love letters".

Sandusky's arrest in November led the Penn State trustees to fire Paterno as head coach, saying he exhibited a lack of leadership after fielding a report from McQueary. The scandal also led to the ouster of university president Graham Spanier, and criminal charges against two university administrators for failing to properly report suspected child abuse and perjury.

The two administrators, athletic director Tim Curley and now-retired vice president Gary Schultz, are fighting the allegations and await trial.

Sandusky had initially faced 52 counts of sex abuse. The judge dropped four counts during the trial, saying two were unproven, one was brought under a statute that did not apply and another was duplicative.

PA