BELLEFONTE, PA—As jurors began deliberations Thursday on charges that he sexually abused 10 boys over a 15-year period, former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky—who did not testify during his trial—expressed regret over being denied a chance to tell "the sweet, loving, tender, and romantic part of the story" that he felt the jury had a right to hear.
"Everything they're saying happened is just wrong," Sandusky told reporters while awaiting a verdict. "The sordid stories about the locker room shower, the terrible testimony about what happened in my basement… None of these things really expresses the depth and intensity of my feelings as I opened my heart of hearts to these kids."
"I have no idea why [defense attorney] Joe [Amendola] didn't want me to talk about that stuff," Sandusky added. "What we had together, those boys and I, was truly special to me."
Sandusky faces 48 criminal counts in the trial, and the jury heard from eight alleged victims—now ages 18 to 28—who said the coerced sexual contact with the former defensive coach ranged from kissing to fondling to showering together to forced oral and anal sex. Sandusky said he was surprised and disappointed none of the boys mentioned the beautiful, special times he tried to share with them.
"Maybe it was just me, all along," said Sandusky, burying his face in his hands. "Oh, God, it was, wasn't it? I can't believe I let myself fall for the oldest trick in the book. I'm such a fool."
Prosecutors have called him a predator who used gifts and the draw of Penn State football to target boys with unstable family lives, a charge Sandusky said completely neglects the emotional side of his "very caring and giving" relationship with at least 10 troubled youths.
Although many of the 28 witnesses called by the defense vouched for his reputation, Sandusky noted that not one of them mentioned the sweeping, epic passion between him and his alleged victims—the tender moments and the establishment of deep, lasting emotional bonds he said are vital to an understanding of events.
"I've been forced to sit here and listen to my special memories of those nights in the showers be reduced to a series of wet rhythmic slapping sounds," Sandusky said. "Nothing about the way the steam made it a little wonderland, the elemental mood lent by the running water, the way I trembled—nothing. They made me sound like some sort of monster. I simply don't understand anything about this."
Sandusky maintained that had he been allowed to give testimony regarding his soaring, once-in-a-lifetime romance with several boys between 8 and 17, the jury would have been forced to admit that what he and the young men had was one for the ages.
"My lawyer said the jury wouldn't care about my emotions, about what I once felt for them or my heartbreak over what's become of us now," Sandusky said. "I guess in that way the jury's a lot like those boys are, huh? Because they don't care either, I guess. It's like they want to see me get hurt for some reason."
"I'm devastated, to be honest. I thought what we had was real. But it seems it was nothing more than sex to them," added Sandusky, his voice cracking as he shook his head. "Well, live, love, and learn, I always say. I guess that's just how kids are."