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Official: Sandusky jury has reached verdict

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Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky arrives June 21, 2012, at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa. Sandusky is charged with 51 counts of child sexual abuse involving 10 boys over a period of 15 years. (Associated Press)

BELLEFONTE, Pa.— The jury in Jerry Sandusky’s child sex abuse trial has reached a verdict, and the panel was expected to announce it Friday evening.

The 68-year-old former Penn State assistant football coach is fighting 48 counts that accuse him of abusing 10 boys over 15 years. He could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted of all counts.

The jury was expected to announce the verdict sometime after 9:45 p.m.

The courtroom will be closed by the time the jury and attorneys assemble for the verdict, and no one will be allowed to leave until court is adjourned, the judge said in a court order. The verdict will be read count by count. Media are barred from transmitting any results of the verdict until adjournment, with the judge promising sanctions for any reporter or media organization violating his order.

Earlier in the evening, Sandusky’s lawyer said he would be shocked and “die of a heart attack” if the former Penn State assistant football coach were acquitted on all counts in his child sex abuse trial.

The candid remarks by Joe Amendola lasted about 15 minutes inside the courtroom and opened a wide window into Sandusky’s state of mind as he and his wife, Dottie, waited for a verdict.

Jurors began deliberating the case Thursday and talked all day Friday.

Amendola said the Sanduskys were spending a lot of time praying. He described the atmosphere at their home as like a funeral.

The couple was “crushed” Thursday when lawyers for one of their sons, Matt Sandusky, said the 33-year-old had been prepared to testify on behalf of prosecutors, Amendola said. Matt Sandusky said his father abused him, his attorneys said.

Amendola said he wasn’t surprised by another man, Travis Weaver, who claimed during an NBC interview Thursday that he was abused by Sandusky more than 100 times in the early 1990s, or by any others who might come forward.

“Money does a lot of bad things to people,” he said.

As for Sandusky and his family, Amendola said he has given them an objective appraisal of what they could expect.

“I’ve used the best example I could use: climbing Mount Everest from the bottom of the mountain,” he said. “It’s a daunting, daunting case.”

He also said that Sandusky had his wife talk to a criminal defense lawyer a couple months ago “just to be careful.”

Amendola’s interview ended when he was summoned into the chambers of Judge John Cleland, who presided over the two-week trial. Cleland has issued a gag order barring lawyers from discussing the case.

The verdict will impact not only Sandusky and the eight young men who accused him of molestation, but a range of civil and criminal probes of the scandal that shamed the university and brought down coach Joe Paterno.

The jury’s apparent focus on the charges involving an unknown boy called Victim 2 in court papers renewed attention on the separate criminal case against two former school officials.

Tim Curley, who temporarily stepped down as athletic director, and now-retired vice president Gary Schultz are charged with lying to a grand jury about what they knew of the 2001 assault that then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary said he witnessed.

Jurors took copious notes and appeared to pay close attention Friday as McQueary’s two-hour testimony was read back to them. McQueary, who said he walked in on the assault, testified that he did not see penetration, but he did see a boy pressed up against a wall in the football team shower with Sandusky behind him.

Jurors also reheard the testimony of a McQueary family friend, Dr. Jonathan Dranov, who said that McQueary told him a different version of the story that didn’t include sexual contact.

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