BELLEFONTE, Penn. — Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant football coach, was convicted Friday of sexually abusing nine young boys, completing the downfall of a onetime local hero in a pedophilia scandal that seized national attention. 

The jury in Centre County Court returned its verdict on its second day of deliberation. He was convicted of 45 of the 48 counts against him. 

The charges against Sandusky, 68, shook Penn State to its roots last year, ending the careers of Joe Paterno, the university’s famed head coach, and its longtime president Graham B. Spanier, and prompting debate and soul-searching over the role of big-time college sports and of trusted men in children’s lives.

Sandusky, who had been Paterno’s longtime defensive coordinator, founded a charity, the Second Mile, to work with troubled youths, which prosecutors said he used as his private hunting ground, scouting for potential victims. What no one disputed was that he was continually in the company of one or more of those boys, taking them to workouts and football games, giving them gifts, having them sleep at his home and even showering with them.

Eight men who said they had been victimized by Sandusky as boys testified during the trial, offering graphic and disturbing accounts of repeated assaults by Sandusky — on the Penn State campus or in the basement of Sandusky’s home.