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Penn. Court Says Sandusky Is Entitled to State Pension

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By Christopher Coble, Esq. on November 17, 2015 12:58 PM

Jerry Sandusky was sentenced to at least 30 years in prison for sexually abusing numerous boys over a 15-year span. That span included his time as a Penn State coach, which entitled Sandusky to a hefty pension after his retirement.

The State Employees Retirement System tried to cancel those pension payments following Sandusky's conviction, but a Pennsylvania court has reinstated his pension. Sandusky, who is serving essentially a life term on 45 counts of child molestation, will again receive $4,900 a month in retirement benefits from the state.

Employee Status

The issue of Sandusky's eligibility for state retirement benefits hinges on whether he was acting as an employee of Penn State when he committed his criminal acts. The retirement board cited a provision in the state Pension Forfeiture Act that applies to "crimes related to public office or public employment" when it stripped Sandusky of his pension.

But a Commonwealth Court panel unanimously disagreed, saying the crimes took place during Sandusky's working with his Second Mile foundation, through which he met the boys he is convicted of molesting. Judge Dan Pellegrini wrote for the court: "The board conflated the requirements that Mr. Sandusky engage in 'work relating to' PSU and that he engage in that work 'for' PSU. Mr. Sandusky's performance of services that benefited PSU does not render him a PSU employee."

Appeal Status

The court ordered the pension system to reinstitute Sandusky's pension payments, including missed payments and interest covering that last three years. This is in addition to the $148,000 lump sum payment Sandusky received upon his retirement in 1999. (Sandusky's conviction includes charges of abuse that occurred as early as 1994.)

The State Employees' Retirement System hasn't announced whether it will appeal the court's ruling. But Sandusky is still appealing his conviction. Reuters reports that last week a state judge ordered the attorney general to produce any documents relating to any financial incentive Sandusky's victims may have had to testify in his trial, but refused requests for testimony from other potential witnesses regarding whether Sandusky received a fair trial.

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