Convicted child sex abuser Jerry Sandusky perceived himself as David, fighting Goliath as the sex scandal unfolded, sending him to prison for at least 30 years, rewriting the history of one of the greatest college football programs in the country, and prompting the firing of its legendary coach, Joe Paterno.
"I was supposed to be David but failed to pick up the sling shot," Sandusky wrote in a letter to Judge John Cleland less than two weeks before he was sentenced. "Goliath won, and I must deal with the outcome. Just like preparing for an athletic contest, I am trying to prepare for what comes."
The letter was released to the public Thursday morning by court officials.
Sandusky sent the letter to the judge hoping to influence him as he decided how to punish the former Penn State assistant football coach. Sandusky was convicted in June on 45 counts of child sex abuse. His wife, Dottie, also wrote a letter. Both parents put some of the blame for Sandusky's guilty verdicts on their son, Matt. Late in the trial, as the jury was already deliberating, Matt Sandusky made a stunning announcement through his attorney that his father abused him too when he was a boy.
"In my heart I know I did not do these disgusting acts," Sandusky wrote. "However, I didn't tell the jury. Our son changed our plans when he switched sides."
"We have forgiven him many times for all he has done to our family thinking that he was changing his life, but he would always go back to his stealing and lies," she wrote. "He has been diagnose (sic) with Bipolar, but he refuses to take his medicine."
Information came out after Sandusky's conviction that he never testified at trial because his son Matt had threatened to take the stand if Sandusky talked. Sandusky, 68, ended up defending himself, defiantly, a total of three times before he was sentenced. First, in an 11th-hour type of move, a Penn State radio station played a three-minute statement he recorded from jail earlier that day. The tone and themes of that statement lasted for 18 minutes the next morning, as Sandusky rambled on in court, blaming a web of conspirators for his downfall. That was right before the judge admonished him and then sentenced him to a minimum of 30 years, but no more than 60 years, in prison.
"You abused the trust of those who trusted you. . .so the crime isn't just what you did to their bodies, but to their psyche; their soul," Cleland said in court.
Here is the entire text of Sandusky's letter to the judge:
September 27, 2012
Hon. John M. Cleland, Senior Judge Specially Presiding
I write without expectation or a plea for leniency. However, I write with hope and resolve to keep fighting for a brighter day. This has been quite an experience. As I sat looking at walls, I spent many hours reliving this ordeal. First, I looked at me, my vulnerability, my naivety (some say stupidity), and my trust in people. Soon, my thoughts turned to all the special people who have been hurt. My heart saddened, and my eyes filled. Later, I began to relive the events leading up to the trial and the trial. Having the time to do it was not the problem it had been in preparation. There were so many people involved in the orchestration of this conviction (media, investigators, prosecutors, "the system", Penn State, and the accusers). It was well done. They won! When I thought about how it transpired, I wondered what they had won. I thought of the methods, decisions, and allegations. I relieved the inconsistent and dishonest testimonies. My mind wondered again. What would be the outcome of all the honest testimonies? My mind wondered again. What would be the outcome of all the accusers and their families who were investigated? I knew the answer. All of their issues would surface. They would no longer be these poor, innocent people, as portrayed. I have been blamed for all of their failures and shortcomings, but nobody mentioned the impact of the people who spent much more time with them than I did. Nobody mentioned the impact of abandonment, neglect, abuse, insecurity, and conflicting messages that the biological parents might have had in this. Those who have worked with troubled lives realize a common reaction for those with low self esteem is often to blame others. They have been rewarded for forgetting, fabricating, and exaggerating. Maybe, they will have a better place to live, a new car, access to more highs, but they won't change. Most of their rewards will be very temporary.
When I reflected, I realized much of what transpired was about protection. I was placed in protective custody; "the system" protected "the system", the media, the prosecution, the civil attorneys, and the accusers. Everybody protected themselves. Penn State, with its own system, protected their public image, their decisions, and the allegations. The authorities were protected. Media protected their jobs and ambitions. Prosecutors protected their jobs and egos. "The system" protected the prosecution. As the stakes became higher, people had more to protect. Civil attorneys were protected. The accusers were protected and provided access to potential financial gain, free attorneys, accolades, psychologists, and attention. Current and former police investigators protected their decisions and explanations to avoid criticism. The jury put up a protective shield to avoid criticism from family, friends, and the public.
Ringing through my ears were attorney Amendola's words, "It doesn't make sensei" I asked myself. Is justice more than just a word? Is fairness more than just a dream? My jaw began to tighten. Then I thought of not being able to be with my wife Dottie, not seeing our dog, Bo, not being there for our kids, not seeing our grandchildren mature, not being with friends, not playing games with loved ones and friends, helping others less, laughing less, and crying more. A chill went up my spine, and my eyes filled again.
Eventually, I thought of the words of Thoreau sent to me by a friend, "It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see." Instead of walls, I saw great memories: I saw loved ones who will carry the light; I saw family and friends; I saw those who overcame huge obstacles; I saw all the people who thrived with a little of our help and hope; I saw a locker room with people hugging and crying as national champs; I saw all the people who have stood by me; I saw all the inspirational cards and letters I had received; I saw me throwing thousands of kids up in the air and them asking for more; I saw me in hundreds of water battles that nobody wanted to end; I saw black, white, brown, yellow, young, old, gifted, and handicapped all at our home; I saw kids laughing and playing; I saw a big, lovable dog licking their faces; and I saw inmates who smiled at me and offered kindness even when I was confined. My heart began to warm.
I've had some difficulties seeing a purpose. The best immediate one may be some vulnerable children may be helped. Some, who may have been abused, might not be as a result of the publicity. I'm not sure about that. I would relish the opportunity to be a little candle for other inmates, as some have been a light for me. Otherwise, I hope the suffering improves our chances for a better life when the last breath comes.
Searching for strength I read many books. One was about a family's efforts to help abandoned children in Romania. It was familiar to me. Most of them were about life's struggles and people's strength to endure. Systems all over the world demanded control and were willing to destroy lives to maintain it. These books represented the worst of life and the best of life. There was extreme greed, hate, and cruelty, combined with love and forgiveness. It was as dismal as it could be, but there was always a little light. The suffering of millions put my struggle in some perspective, and hopefully, will bring strength and courage throughout the rest of my journey.
The book with the most impact for me was entitled Left to Tell. It was about an amazing woman of tremendous faith who survived the Rwandan Holocaust. Over a million people were killed because they had to pick sides. She talked about what happened. In the words of a pastor, "I've seen these killing sprees before - once the blood lust is in the air, you can trust no one, not even your own children." There was betrayal and murder. Families turned against one another. Best friends became enemies. Those who had been helped at one point in their life sought and killed those who had helped them. In a lesser way I've experienced this. Through the darkness there was light. Loyalty prevailed when the lady's (Imaculee's) brother stood up for her before his execution. He said, "Even if I knew where my beautiful sister was, I wouldn't tell you." I also related to that as my loved ones and true friends have remained loyal to me.
My trust in people, systems, and fairness has diminished. My faith in God who sends light through the darkness has remained. My heart has been broken but still works. In my heart I know I did not do these disgusting acts. However, I didn't tell the jury. Our son changed our plans when he switched sides. I was supposed to be David but failed to pick up the sling shot. Goliath won, and I must deal with the outcome. Just like preparing for an athletic contest, I am trying to prepare for what comes. I have chosen books with this mind. I have given many second chances and will ask for one. The battle will continue for me and those like Imaculee's brother who remained loyal and shared the hurt.
Although Sandusky's sentence is tantamount to a life sentence for the 68-year-old, his attorneys say he truly believes he can get the verdict overturned. They are planning to appeal on the grounds that Sandusky's defense team did not have enough time to adequately prepare his case.