BELLEFONTE, Pa. — There was a kind of pep rally on the steps of the Centre County courthouse here Friday night after Jerry Sandusky was found guilty of 45 counts related to sexually abusing boys. There were teary-eyed hugs, shrieks of joy and high-fives all around.
In an ordinarily quiet cul-de-sac about 10 miles down the road in Lemont, the triumphant crackle, burst and flare of fireworks lit up Sandusky’s front lawn. His closest neighbors — expressing their collective relief — had cause for celebration, too.
“This was a nightmare. There was a monster who lived next door,” said Susan Strauss, the mother of six newly adopted children. “There was such a wave of emotion that finally justice would be done. And it was.”
Said Paul Kletchka, whose house is next to the Sanduskys: “It really hit me last night how this has been occupying my thoughts every waking moment. Now, I don’t have to worry about it anymore.”
Sandusky was a revered figure in nearby State College. He was a longtime assistant football coach under Joe Paterno and he founded a respected charity for underprivileged children.
That a jury of his peers determined Friday that Sandusky had used The Second Mile charity to lure victims into his basement bedroom shocked an already divided community.
Karl Rominger, Sandusky’s co-counsel, had stayed up past midnight smoking a cigar and drinking a beer at the Hotel Do-De bar, across the street from the courthouse. He said Saturday morning, in between several television interviews, that the appeals process will vindicate his client.
Rominger said Sandusky’s lawyers said they asked to resign from the case on the eve of the trial but the judge turned them down.
According to Rominger, he and Joe Amendola said that as jury selection began, they made a sealed motion saying they had not been given enough time to adequately prepare, but Judge John Cleland ruled against them after discussion in his chambers.
“We told the trial court, the Superior Court and the Supreme Court we were not prepared to proceed to trial in June due to numerous issues, and we asked to withdraw from the case for those reasons,” Amendola said.
In Bellefonte, the television crews were mostly gone by 9 a.m. Saturday.
For the time being, Sandusky is incarcerated at the Centre County Correctional Facility.