A jury has found former Pennsylvania State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky guilty on 45 out of 48 counts in his child sex abuse trial.

Sandusky was seen escorted out of the courthouse in handcuffs on Friday. He could be sentenced to hundreds of years in prison.

The decision came after about 21 hours of deliberation over two days by a jury of seven women and five men.

Nine of the 16 jurors and alternates had ties to Pennsylvania State University, and the final days of the trial drew large crowds to the Centre County Courthouse.

The white-haired former coach, who did not testify in his own defence, faced 48 counts of sexual abuse of 10 boys over a 15-year period, sometimes at Penn State facilities.

Linda Kelly, Pennsylvania's attorney general, thanked the victims for  testifying, saying they had "shown great strength... to not only tell their stories to a packed courtroom, but the entire world".

Prosecutors said Sandusky recruited his victims through his Second Mile charity, which went bankrupt last month after donations dried up in the wake of the scandal.

Joseph Amendola, Sandusky's lawyer, told reporters after the verdict was read that he had battled a "tidal wave of public opinion against Jerry Sandusky" and that the verdict was not a surprise.

"I used the analogy that we were trying to climb Mount Everest from the bottom of the mountain. Well obviously, we didn't make it," Amendola said.

'Life sentence'

Amendola said there were "decent appeal issues" that his team would pursue, but acknowledged: "Essentially, the sentence that Jerry will receive is a life sentence."

That statement elicited cheers from the crowd gathered outside the courthouse.

A large crowd had gathered there to learn news of the court's decision.

The charges against Sandusky rocked Penn State University, prompting trustees to fire head coach Joe Paterno, who built Penn State into a powerhouse that generates tens of millions of dollars of profit each year.

The firing last November was a humiliating way for Paterno to end a career in which he won more games than any coach in US major college football. He died two months later of lung cancer.

Following Friday's verdict, Penn State issued a statement inviting victims to participate in discussions toward a resolution of their claims against the university.

"The university plans to invite victims of Mr Sandusky's abuse to participate in a program to facilitate the resolution of claims against the university arising out of Mr Sandusky's conduct," the statement said.

"The purpose of the program is simple - the university wants to provide a forum where the university can privately, expeditiously and fairly address the victims' concerns and compensate them for claims relating to the university," it added.

Source: Agencies