BELLEFONTE, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky appeared in court on Thursday for the first time since he was sent to prison for sexually abusing young boys, looking thinner but upbeat while his lawyers appealed his conviction.
Sandusky, 68, dressed in a red prison uniform, smiled at about a dozen supporters present in the courtroom, including his wife Dottie.
“How are you guys?” he asked his wife and the others before court officers guided him to the defense table in the same courthouse where he was convicted nearly seven months ago, just a few miles from the Penn State campus in State College, Pennsylvania.
Sandusky was convicted in June of molesting 10 boys over a 15-year period in a scandal that rocked college sports and focused national attention on child sex abuse.
He was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison, effectively a life sentence.
In seeking to overturn that conviction, Sandusky’s lawyers argued to trial Judge John Cleland that they were not given enough time to prepare for the trial, which tarnished the legacy of late legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno and led the NCAA to impose a raft of unprecedented penalties on the university.
Joseph Amendola, one of Sandusky’s trial attorneys, took the witness stand and told Cleland on Thursday that ahead of the trial he received more than 12,000 pages of documents and hundreds of pictures to review.
Cleland did not issue a decision on Sandusky’s request for his conviction to be tossed out.
In March 2012, Cleland delayed the start date of the trial by three weeks but later denied another motion by Amendola to further delay the trial. Pennsylvania appeals courts rejected an appeal of Cleland’s ruling.
A grand jury in November charged the university’s former president, Graham Spanier, with participating in a “conspiracy of silence” to cover up Sandusky’s behavior.
Two other officials, Athletic Director Tim Curley and retired Vice President Gary Schultz, also face new charges of child endangerment, criminal conspiracy and obstruction of justice.
They were charged in November 2011 with failure to report suspected abuse and perjury, and both have pleaded not guilty. Schultz and Curley face trial later this month.
Trustees fired Spanier and the revered head football coach Paterno in November 2011 in the wake of the charges against Sandusky. Paterno died in January 2012 of lung cancer.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association, the governing body for college sports, slapped Penn State with a $60 million fine and voided the 14 seasons of football victories that Sandusky coached. At least three of Sandusky’s victims have sued Penn State.
Earlier this month, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett sued the NCAA over its sanctions.
Reporting by Mark Shade; Writing by Dan Burns; Editing by Paul Thomasch, Bernadette Baum and Nick Zieminski