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Jerry Sandusky gets at least 30 years in prison, but case isn't closed yet (+video)

The former Penn State coach was sentenced Tuesday for child sexual abuse, but his lawyer says the conviction will be appealed. There is also the unresolved matter of civil lawsuits filed against Jerry Sandusky, his charitable foundation, and Penn State.

By Ron SchererStaff writer / October 9, 2012

Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, center, is taken from the Centre County Courthouse by Centre County Sheriff Denny Nau, left, and a deputy, after being sentenced in Bellefonte, Pa., Tuesday.

Matt Rourke/AP

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Child molester Jerry Sandusky, sentenced Tuesday to 30 to 60 years, is likely spend the rest of his life in prison – assuming the conviction of the the former Penn State football coach sticks. A probable appeal, plus at least three civil suits filed by victims seeking damages, means the final chapter in the sordid Sandusky saga remains to be written.

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The lead lawyer for Mr. Sandusky, Joe Amendola, said Tuesday he will appeal the conviction. He claims that Sandusky’s right to due process was violated by what he considers a rush to trial: Sandusky’s trial began 4-1/2 months after he was arrested and charged with abusing 10 young boys. Sandusky was convicted in June on 45 counts.

“If you research your typical felony case, the cases take at least a year, sometimes three years,” said Mr. Amendola at a post-sentencing news conference in Bellefonte, Pa.

Due process in a court of law is enshrined in the US Constitution, but whether Sandusky's lawyers can show that their client was denied it because of inadequate time to prepare a defense remains to be seen. Some trial lawyers are dubious. How much time a defendant needs to prepare for trial, they say, is up to the trial judge.

“Other than the right to a speedy trial, there is no rule [in the Constitution] on when an arrest takes place and the date of the trial,” says Alan Kaufman, a former federal prosecutor and a defense lawyer at Kelley Drye & Warren, a New York-based law firm. “Some judges are much stricter on scheduling, and others are more flexible.”

Mr. Kaufman, who sometimes defends white-collar criminals accused of insider trading, says the evidence in those cases can include hundreds or even thousands of hours of tape-recorded information. “There can be 100,000 pages of discovery, and I know judges are usually receptive if you need adequate time to prepare.”

Sandusky, in a rambling statement released by PSUComMedia.com on Monday, the day before sentencing, also alluded to the relatively quick trial. “First, I looked at myself. Over and over, I asked why? Why didn’t we have a fair opportunity to prepare for trial?”

In the statement, Sandusky blamed almost everyone else for his plight. First, he claimed that a “young man who is dramatic, a veteran accuser, and always sought attention started everything,” he said. "He was joined by a well-orchestrated effort of the media, investigators, the system, Penn State, psychologists, civil attorneys, and other accusers."

Amendola said Tuesday he would have liked to have had time to see if there had been any corroboration between any of the victims.

He says it would have taken months to comb through phone records of all 10 victims. “All we were looking for was information,” he said. “The information was coming in as we were selecting a jury. We ran out of time.”

However, other defense lawyers wonder what Amendola might have uncovered.

“It is a classic fishing expedition,” says James Cohen, an associate professor at Fordham University Law School in New York. “What would the phone records have shown? Probably not a lot.”

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