On Friday, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court ruled that the state must make restitution to convicted child molester and former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky for the pension funds denied him after his conviction three years ago.
The court ruled unanimously that the pension funds slated for Sanudusky, 71, were wrongfully terminated because the State Employees’ Retirement Board mistakenly thought Sandusky was a Penn State employee when he committed the crimes. Sandusky was convicted in June 2012 on charges of indecent assault and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse for sexually abusing 10 children between July 2005 and December 2008.
Judge Dan Pellegrini stated, “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.”
When Sandusky retired in 1999, he received a $148,000 lump sum payment followed by monthly payments of $4,900. But the state terminated the payments after his conviction.
The ruling on Friday was based on the judges’ belief that the board had thought the crimes occurred when Sandusky was a Penn State employee, but he was not an employee of the university at the time of the offenses.
The state must pay Sandusky the payments he had missed as well as interest on those payments.
One of Sandusky’s accusers testified of forced oral sex and instances of rape in Sandusky’s basement that left him bleeding. Another accuser said Sandusky threatened that if he related how he was abused, he would never see his family again. Even Sandusky’s adopted son Matt was ready to testify that Sandusky sexually abused him, according to ESPN.
Sandusky attorney Richard A. Beran said that “under the law it was very clear he was entitled to it, and his wife is entitled to the pension if Jerry predeceases her.” Sandusky has launched an appeal of his conviction.
State Employees’ Retirement System spokesman Jay Pagni responded to the judges’ ruling, asserting, “We just received the order today. We are reviewing it and we will present that analysis to the board.”
Penn State employees are not considered employees of the state, but are eligible for the state government pension system.