"The tragedy of this crime is that it's a story of betrayal. The most obvious aspect is your betrayal of 10 children," Cleland told Sandusky. "I'm not going to sentence you to centuries in prison, although the law will permit that." Still, Cleland said, he expected Sandusky to die in prison.
Before sentencing, Cleland designated Sandusky as a sexually violent predator under the state's Megan's Law. The label essentially has no effect on Sandusky, since its requirement is lifetime registration after a convict is released from prison.
In sentencing the ex-coach, Cleland called Sandusky dangerous, saying, "You abused the trust of those who trusted you." He also called Sandusky's comments about a conspiracy against him "unbelievable."
The scandal brought devastation in State College that will take years to fully assess, as Sandusky's victims are pressing civil claims and a January trial is pending for Gary Schultz and Tim Curley, two university administrators charged with failing to properly report suspicions about Sandusky and lying to the grand jury that investigated him.
Soon after the three were arrested in November, the board of trustees fired Paterno, the school's most famous figure and a man who won two national college football championships in the 1980s. Paterno died of lung cancer in January.
Over the summer, an investigation commissioned by the university and led by former FBI Director Louis Freeh concluded that Paterno and other top officials covered up allegations against Sandusky for years to avoid bad publicity.
The scandal also toppled university President Graham Spanier and led to crippling NCAA sanctions against the football team that included a $60 million fine, a ban on postseason play and a reduction in the number of football scholarships the school can award. The NCAA also erased 14 years of victories for Paterno, stripping him of his standing as major college football's winningest coach.
At least four young men have sued Penn State over the way the university responded to disturbing complaints about Sandusky.
Eight legal teams representing at least 20 young men have surfaced, and the school recently announced an effort to settle as many claims as possible by the end of the year.
Penn State President Rodney Erickson released a statement shortly after the sentence was handed down.
"Our thoughts today, as they have been for the last year, go out to the victims of Jerry Sandusky's abuse," Erickson said. "While today's sentence cannot erase what has happened, hopefully it will provide comfort to those affected by these horrible events."
The third victim who spoke had testified that he was raped over the course of years by Sandusky, including on team trips to bowl games in Texas and Florida.
"I want you to know I don't forgive you and I don't know if I will ever forgive you," he said. "My only regret is that I didn't come forward sooner."
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.