Sandusky, who was defensive coordinator and for many years the presumed heir-apparent to legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, could have faced as long as 400 years for his convictions on 45 counts of child sexual abuse, but at age 68, he is unlikely ever to leave prison, assuming he loses any appeals.
Wearing a red prison jumpsuit and appearing notably thinner than before he was convicted in June, Sandusky was transported to Centre County Court from jail in a sheriff's patrol car shortly before the hearing. His wife, Dottie, was in attendance, as were six of his victims, who were to give statements about the impact the abuse had on their lives.
Details of what they said weren't immediately available. The hearing was still under way, and under the same rules he imposed during trial, Judge John Cleland was allowing no communication from the courtroom until the after it has concluded.
Sandusky's lead attorney, Joe Amendola, told NBC 10 in Philadelphia that Sandusky planned to make a statement in court, but he said he wasn't sure Cleland would let him after Sandusky released a surprise audio statement Monday night on the Penn State student radio station blaming a widespread conspiracy among police, university administrators and the media for his conviction.
It was the first time the public had heard Sandusky, who didn't testify at his trial, speak extensively since his conviction in June.
"They could treat me as a monster, but they can't take away my heart," Sandusky said in the three-minute statement. "In my heart, I know I did not do these alleged disgusting acts."
The scandal rocked Penn State and Centre County to their cores.
Paterno, who was a revered figure representing integrity in college football, was fired amid allegations that he didn't properly report concerns about Sandusky to authorities. He died in January.
University President Graham Spanier resigned in November. Athletic Director Tim Curley and Senior Vice President Gary Schultz also resigned and face separate trials on charges that they lied to a grand jury about what they knew.
Penn State's storied football program, meanwhile, was fined $60 million by the NCAA and was stripped of all victories back to 1998.