Sandusky’s Sentence, Sandusky’s Hope

The Story: Jerry Sandusky will likely spend the rest of his life in prison. Yesterday, Judge John Cleland sentenced the 68-year-old former Penn State assistant football coach to no less than 30 years in prison for child sex abuse. His maximum sentence is 60 years. 

According to one report, it was an emotional hearing in which victims recounted the horrors they endured while Sandusky insisted on his innocence, even portraying himself as a victim.

“All the qualities that make you successful concealed your vices,” Cleland told the former coach. “This, in my view, makes you dangerous.” The judge also noted the long-term damage Sandusky inflicted on his victims: “This crime is not only what you did to their bodies, but their psyche and souls.” Cleland then concluded by addressing the victims themselves: “The fact that you were assaulted is no cause for shame….It is for your courage that you will be remembered.”

The Background: It’s been almost a year since the Penn State scandal erupted, resulting in the firing of legendary head football coach Joe Paterno and the forced resignation of longtime university president, Graham Spanier.

On June 22, a 12-person jury concluded that Sandusky, who retired from Penn State in 1999, used his access to university facilities and his foundation for underprivileged youth to sexually abuse 10 boys over a 15-year period. He was convicted on 45 of 48 counts.

Why It Matters: This is a horrific and heartbreaking story. We can sympathize with the anger expressed by Victim No. 9’s mother, who yesterday told Sandusky, “Whatever comes to you I hope it is tenfold for what you did to my son and others.”

Startling, therefore, were the words of Victim No. 6. Looking into his abuser’s face, the victim reportedly said: “If you seek forgiveness, Jesus will forgive you. There’s not any other way. Please repent, or there is a bigger judgment to come.”

Saul of Tarsus was a news headline sort of sinner, too. As he later reflected:

Formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent….The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. (1 Tim. 1:13, 15-16)

The astonishing news of Christianity is that God’s eternal Son didn’t launch a rescue mission for mild sinners. He came for the sick—for blasphemers, persecutors, insolent opponents. Yes, even for child sex abusers.

The world won’t forgive you, Jerry, but Jesus will. Turn to him in trust. Calvary’s repentant thief bears loud witness that it’s not too late.

The gospel of the bloody cross declares that you can sit in a cold prison cell freer than ever before.

  • Seth Fuller

    Excellent post. Thank you.

  • Phil

    just when I thought I was beginning to understand grace…

    • Mel

      grace is a free gift of mercy when you don’t deserve it by any stretch of the imagination, correct? Which we all want for ourselves.

      • Phil Long

        Correct. Easy to say, so hard to fathom.

  • Kurt Earl

    Thank you for writing this. Sometimes we say things like “If grace is an ocean than I only understand a buckets full worth” but we don’t ever live that out. Here, we get the opportunity to put our grace where your mouth is.

  • John Carpenter

    Startling, . . . [indeed], were the words of Victim No. 6. Looking into his abuser’s face, the victim reportedly said: “If you seek forgiveness, Jesus will forgive you. There’s not any other way. Please repent, or there is a bigger judgment to come.”

  • Chris

    I think we should all pray for as deep an understanding of God’s unconditional love and grace as Victim No. 6 has. That’s beautiful, and truly unbelievable.

  • Pete Scribner

    We don’t understand the greatness of God’s grace because we don’t understand the depth of our sin. My flesh doesn’t want Sandusky to ever get forgiveness. Then the Holy Spirit reminds me that, apart from Christ, I deserve God’s condemnation every bit as much as he does. Thanks be to God for his grace to us in Christ Jesus his son.

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  • Barchetta

    This would be a good time to read the testimony of David Berkowitz.

    • Chris

      Well Barchetta, I went to the link you provided and read this “testimony” of this Edomite deceiver. “Many shall come in my name saying (acknowledging) I am (the) Christ, but be ye not deceived.”

      His victims suffered untold horrors at his hand and there has been no justice. Meanwhile, you and the rest of Society have been paying for his crimes at the rate of about 80.00 per day to keep him in prison, while the victims receive absolutely NOTHING! You and all of society are being punished for his crimes.

      He escaped the proper punishment of public participant execution. This is in direct violation of Yahweh’s perfect Law and JUDGMENTS! You know, those judgments that will make all those “see and fear and thus eliminate this evil from the land.”

      Now, while in prison, he continues the lie of a false “salvation” such as “accept Jesus as your personal savior and invite Him into your heart” type of non Biblical way to salvation. He must have been laughing at the dumb “goyim” ’till his dying day.

      You don’t seem to get it: “The thief comes not but to steal, kill and destroy.” Do you think God was just “whistling Dixie through a straw hat when He emphatically said: “Jacob have I loed, but Esau I hate? !!!

      • Barchetta

        I’m sure Berkowitz would like to give you a shout out as well, Chris, for supporting his life in prison. Perhaps you should write him so he can send a proper thank you.

        Otherwise, yeah, you know I’ve always felt that way about Paul. That God didn’t lead the people to publically execute him immediately for his persecution of the church is unconscionable.

        Man desires judgement, God desires salvation.

  • John Englehutt

    If there was rape/sodomy involved here, which it sounds like there was, then the Biblical penalty is death, NOT thirty years in prison. The Lord Jesus may well forgive him IF he turns to Him in genuine repentance, but that does not annul the required civil penalty of death in a case like this. The fact that the government will not impose the death-penalty on rapists and such criminals is indicative of just how far society has fallen from obedience to God.

    • Chris

      Well John, so far you’re the only one who seems to be on the right tract while the rest are tripping all over themselves trying to be so “full of grace” toward this unrepentant sodomite and child molester.

      In case the rest of you didn’t hear, this guy was defiant ’till the end. You can talk “grace” all you want, but without repentance, God seams to loose His sense of humor about such vial crimes! John’s right, “I’m Sorry” isn’t the cure all. There’s still the justice that needs to be administered.

  • Barchetta

    “Just play the “hate group card”.”

    It’s not a card Chris, it’s the truth. A white supremacist hate group. Wow, I’m even having a hard time believing that I actually typed that while commenting on a Gospel Coalition topic.

    Feel free to have the last word. I’ll say a prayer for you.

  • Chris


    Yes it is a card and it’s all you had to counter what was put forth, i.e., His Word, which is Truth. I doubt you even looked up the citations given.

    And when confronted with the truth, you reacted in knee jerk fashion with “OMG, it’s one of T H E M!”, because you can’t handle the truth. The real issue, contrary to what those deceivers have fed you, is not “white supremacy”. True Israel is to be a ministering people. If your interested in finding out about the people of God and His purpose for them, then reply and I’ll supply another place for you to start. If you’re not interested, don’t reply.

    If you have a love of the truth, you’d seek it with all your being, even if it shows your current beliefs to be in error, because then it’s: “OMG, I’ll have to change them.” It’s called repentance, and you will either repent or continue down the wrong path to the destination it’s leading you.

    Thanks for the intent of your prayer offer. I’ve said a couple for your eyes to be opened and for Him to give you that which you lack: A love of the truth. Seek Him while He may yet be found.

    The last word to me is not important. It’s to The Great I Am, who became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1: 1 – 14) that has, and always shall have, the last words: John 15: 18 & 19, John 8: 47, Juke 13: 24 – 27, Luke 6: 22 – 23 & 26, Luke 1: 71 – 75, Mark 13: 22, Matthew 13: 13 – 15. There’s many more, but this will do for now. Now you’ll have to actually open your Bible to see what’s cited.

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