By Ian Simpson
BELLEFONTE, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - Former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky, on the eve of his sentencing for molesting children, on Monday denied he committed the "alleged disgusting acts" and said his wife has been his only sex partner.
Sandusky, 68, in a taped statement carried by Penn State's student radio station, said he was wrongly convicted of 45 counts of child sex abuse, crimes for which he could spend the rest of his life behind bars after his sentencing on Tuesday in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania.
"Why didn't we have a fair opportunity to prepare for trial? Why have so many people suffered as a result of false allegations?" Sandusky said in the statement that his lawyer verified was from the former assistant coach.
"What's the purpose? Maybe (the case) will help others; some vulnerable children who could be abused, might not be because of all the publicity."
He added, "In my heart, I know I did not do these alleged disgusting acts. My wife has been my only sex partner. That was after marriage."
Judge John Cleland could sentence Sandusky to hundreds of years in prison at a hearing in the same courthouse where the former coach was convicted in June of sexually abusing 10 boys.
"Anything over 20 years is a life sentence. We're anticipating that," said Sandusky's attorney Joe Amendola, who is preparing an appeal contending the defense did not have enough time to prepare for the high-profile case.
Sandusky, in isolation at the Centre County Correctional Facility, was "amazingly upbeat" and working on what he will say in court, the attorney said on Monday.
"I anticipate that he'll say he's innocent. He doesn't feel we had enough to prepare his defense," he said.
Sandusky and his wife, Dottie, "feel the media was against them from the beginning and they didn't get a fair shake," he added.
Sandusky's case jolted the world of college athletics, where Penn State football reigned for decades under legendary coach Joe Paterno. On grounds that they failed to act on what they knew about Sandusky's behavior, Paterno was fired, as was university President Graham Spanier. Paterno died in January of lung cancer at age 85.
The judge held an 80-minute briefing with attorneys on Monday to make final preparations for the sentencing hearing.
Chief prosecutor Joe McGettigan, speaking to reporters, said as many as six victims could speak against Sandusky at the hearing.
"We're confident that the judge will impose the appropriate sentence."
Sandusky, once defensive coordinator for Penn State's powerhouse football team, was convicted on 45 counts of child sexual abuse.
He did not take the stand at his trial. He has maintained he did not abuse the boys, whom he met through The Second Mile, a charity he founded for at-risk youth.
Only Sandusky will speak on his behalf, Amendola said.
"Dottie and the five children are solidly behind Jerry," he said. A sixth child, Matt, said after the trial that his father had abused him. All of Sandusky's children were adopted.
MAINTAINING HIS INNOCENCE
Sandusky is being held in isolation for his protection although he has asked several times unsuccessfully to be placed with the jail's general population, his attorney said.
"He wants everybody to know that he maintains his innocence," he said.
David Clohessy, head of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests known as SNAP, said he felt Sandusky was unrepentant and belonged in prison.
"We believe he'll be attracted to kids until the day he dies," he said.
Ahead of sentencing, Pennsylvania's Sexual Offenders Assessment Board will report to Cleland on its evaluation of whether Sandusky is a sexually violent predator. The designation would put him under reporting requirements if he were to be released from prison on probation.
Sandusky's abuse of the boys ranged over 15 years, from fondling to anal and oral sex, including a rape in a football shower in 2001.
Daniel Filler, a law professor at Philadelphia's Drexel University, said the judge likely would focus on the severity of the crimes and Sandusky's background, both good and bad.
"What would normally be a defendant's strongest argument for leniency - a lifetime of good works - may be used to justify a harsh sentence for Sandusky because he betrayed the trust of the kids he served," Filler wrote in an email.
(Additional reporting by Dave Warner; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst, Paul Thomasch and Cynthia Osterman)
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