A Centre County Court jury in Bellefonte, about eight miles from the stadium, believed nearly all of the allegations. On Friday night, it convicted Sandusky, who coached for Paterno for 32 years, of 45 of the 48 counts brought against him for molesting young boys.
The eight days of testimony served as a reminder that the Penn State football program, considered pristine for decades under the strong hand of Paterno, carries a stain that won't be eradicated any time soon, even under the new leadership of the energetic, 42-year-old O'Brien and his mostly new staff.
With what was revealed about Sandusky's illicit activities around the football team, every development in this case will bring up reminders of past atrocities, touching off feelings of bewilderment and humiliation.
For people with no loyalty to the university, the feeling is anger. They often believe that Paterno and his associates enabled Sandusky's conduct by being indifferent to what was going on or, more radically, by covering it up to protect a program that brings in millions of dollars to fund other intercollegiate athletics.
But there are members of the Penn State football family who were "just freaked out about this," as former linebacker LaVar Arrington said.
While he could not be reached by phone Saturday for comment, Arrington has been very active on blogs and on Twitter since the trial began. He was particularly devastated when he found out the trial's first witness, identified as Victim 4, was someone he knew from his days with the Nittany Lions.
According to testimony, Sandusky gave the boy a copy of Sports Illustrated autographed by Arrington, and allowed him to wear Arrington's No. 11 jersey. A photo of Arrington with the boy was entered as evidence.
"I'd be going through my stretches, and the kid would be with me," he wrote on the blog at his radio station, The Fan 106.7 in Washington. "If I would have known what the hell was going on, I would have kept him with me.
"The victims aren't limited to those young men that are testifying in that courtroom. There are a lot of victims that are involved in this. To hear my name come up and some way, somehow, I'm a part of this, I'm a victim. I knew nothing about it. But my uniform is being used to seduce kids. That's [messed] up."
In the meantime, Penn State is trying to assure everyone that it will operate "under the highest mantle of integrity," acting athletic director Dave Joyner said Saturday in a statement.
"The trust of our community has been broken," Joyner said, "but Penn State athletics will move forward to regain that trust with student athletes serving as the role models we expect them to be, and coaches living by example."
Mike Guman, who played for Paterno in the late 1970s, acknowledged that perceptions from people inside and outside Penn State were different and said there was a "great degree of sadness" over the Sandusky matter. But he takes issue with those who call it a Penn State scandal.
"No matter how much they look at it, it is not Penn State football," he said. "It's Jerry Sandusky. It's one man doing acts that were just unimaginable. . . . I can understand to a degree, but it's not the Penn State scandal, really.
"There's an enormous amount of negativity because of the court case . . . [but] it's over now, at least for the sentencing. And other things will happen after this, too. But I think they're moving forward in a great way. They're going to be a tremendous part of the healing process with Penn State."
O'Brien, who was not available Saturday for comment, has focused more on what is to come rather than what has happened since being hired Jan. 6.
However, any attempt to move forward could be deterred by the past. It happened with the trial, and it could happen again as soon as next month, when a special committee, commissioned by the board of trustees and led by former FBI director Louis Freeh, is expected to make its report on the Sandusky issue. It is expected to answer the question of how much Paterno knew as well as university officials all the way up to former president Graham B. Spanier.
There is also the coming perjury trial of former athletic director Tim Curley, who is on leave, and ex-university vice president Gary Schultz. The pair are said to have spoken in 2001 with Mike McQueary, who was a graduate assistant at the time that he said he saw Sandusky in the shower with a young boy at the Lasch building. McQueary is on administrative leave as an assistant coach.
In addition, the Big Ten Conference is in the midst of its own investigation of Penn State's program during the years of Sandusky's abuses for a perceived lack of institutional control and could impose sanctions. The NCAA is conducting its own inquiry even though its institutional-control rules deal more with illegal gifts in recruiting.
Contact Joe Juliano at 215-854-4494 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow on Twitter @joejulesinq. Read his blog, "Lion Eyes," at www.philly.com/sports/lioneyes
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