Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky will now begin the next phase of his life as a convicted child sex offender. NBC's John Yang reports.
Friday night was not a good night for the Penn State community but you couldn't tell it from the atmosphere outside the courtroom.
Jerry Sandusky was convicted of the overwhelming majority of the child sex abuse counts of against him. The verdict revealed that the jury believed the account of every of major witness the prosecution presented. There were only three verdicts of 'not guilty' in the 48 counts Sandusky faced.
Each of the not-guilty verdicts revealed that the jury trusted the witness presenting the evidence but thought his account failed to satisfy the elements of one of the crimes.
One of the three not-guilty verdicts involved Mike McQueary's testimony. The jury concluded that McQueary's testimony that he observed Sandusky and a boy in the shower did not establish, beyond a reasonable doubt, actual sex had occurred between Jerry Sandusky and an unidentified boy in the shower.
McQueary himself testified that he was not sure what he saw but inferred that sex had occurred from the circumstances. The jury's conclusion perfectly mapped with McQueary's own testimony.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly speaks outside the courthouse in Bellefonte after Jerry Sandusky was found guilty of child sex-abuse.
The jury's conclusion that McQueary observed indecent assault and unlawful contact with a minor demonstrated that the jury believed McQueary saw something improper and illegal, but not necessarily actual sex, as he admitted.
The two other not-guilty verdicts involved victims who described inappropriate contact in showers with Sandusky.
The jury found that Sandusky sought sexual gratification in his interaction with each of the victims. The descriptions each of these victims offered were somewhat vague. The jury therefore concluded that the actual touching they described was insufficient to establish a crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
The jury nevertheless concluded that each of these victims had established that Sandusky's motives in his interactions with them were sexual in nature and convicted him of unlawful contact with a minor, endangering the welfare of a minor, and corruption of a minor.
The eight witnesses demonstrated a range of credibility. Ultimately the jury concluded that all of the victims were credible but carefully examined their testimony to see if it established the crimes alleged.
It is entirely possible that no single victim could have prevailed in the he-said, he-said conflict in this case. But the victims reinforced one another. The odds that they were all lying were too remote for the jury to conclude anything other than they were all telling the truth.
MSNBC's Ed Schultz talks with Jeff Herman, an attorney who specializes in representing sexual abuse victims, about the difficulties the victims in the Sandusky case would have had in stepping forward with allegations.
Outside the courtroom, a cheerful crowd applauded the verdict, lawyers for the prosecution and the police investigators. We as a society should never applaud having to punish one of own, even when the punishment is fitting. Beyond the crowd's unseemly response, such an atmosphere threatens to undermine our system of justice. Subsequent juries in high profile cases will know how they will be received if they render a verdict that meets with society's approval. More substantially, they may fear the public reaction if its will is thwarted by 12 of its citizens.
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