(USA TODAY) -- Dottie Sandusky, the wife of former Penn State assistant football coach and convicted child sex abuser Jerry Sandusky, insists that her husband "did not do the horrible crimes" that sent him to prison.
Sandusky, who has been married to the former coach for 47 years, spoke to Today's Matt Lauer for her first-ever television interview from her home in State College, Penn.
"He is innocent," she says, claiming the victims were manipulated and that the case against Sandusky was built on lies.
"I think they were manipulated and they saw money," she says. "And once lawyers came into the case they said there was money."
Jerry Sandusky, 70, is serving a 30 to 60-year prison sentence for his conviction in 2012 on 45 charges of sexual abuse of young boys over a period of 15 years.
Lauer asked her if she believed her husband was guilty of inappropriate behavior with some of the young boys who have accused him.
"I don't believe that,'' she says. "I believe he showered with kids. That's the generation that Jerry grew up in ... There were always people coming in and out no matter what time that was."
In the Today interview, she responded sharply to a Washington Post story that said predators like Sandusky "tend to choose spouses who can be counted on to suppress any unpleasant ideas that might occur to them."
"I'm not a weak spouse,'' Dottie Sandusky tells Lauer, "As you know ... they call me 'Sarge' because Jerry said I kept everybody in line. If they want to say that, let them say that. I know who I am. And I know who Jerry is. And I know he did not do the horrible crimes that he's convicted of."
She also directly disputes an allegation by one of the young victims said that he screamed while being sexually abused by Sandusky in the basement of the Sandusky house and that Dottie never checked to see what was happening. She tells Lauer she never heard anyone "because he didn't scream."
In the tearful interview, she says her husband had told a friend that he missed most things he had taken for granted like "family meals, fun time with the grandkids playing ball, (and) doing special things with friends."
She says he spends 23 hours a day in a cell and is allowed out, handcuffed, for only an hour a day.
"Jerry is still a happy person, he smiles and ties to make ppl laugh. He says I 'm in the situation I am in and I am going tyo try to make the best I can of it."
Dottie Sandusky says her husband reads, meditates and writes, and spends two hours a week in the law library.
She says he is "very hopeful" he will be allowed out on appeal.