An arbitrator in Pennsylvania ruled that Jerry Sandusky’s $4,900-a-month pension payments, as well as his payments dating back to his conviction on 45 counts of child sexual abuse in October 2012, should be reinstated.
The Pennsylvania State Employees’ Retirement System (SERS) decided to end his benefits upon his conviction, but hearing examiner Michael Bangs wrote an opinion last Thursday that says Sandusky, the long-time Penn State assistant coach, should get his pension back.
Hearing examiner Michael Bangs wrote in an opinion dated Thursday but made public Monday that it was clear the former assistant football coach was no longer a Penn State employee after his 1999 retirement. That was critical to the pension dispute because the state Pension Forfeiture Act was expanded five years later, in 2004, to add sexual offenses to the list of crimes that trigger forfeiture.
"The Pennsylvania forfeiture law is simply not applicable to SERS' members who commit crimes after they have begun receiving their pensions, which is really what SERS is attempting to do in this case," Bangs wrote. "The courts simply cannot extend the current law beyond any rational interpretation of its current form."
Sandusky and Pennsylvania’s State Employees’ Retirement System will have the chance to respond to Bangs’ recommendation before the retirement system board “will decide whether the pension should be reinstated.” A decision “could occur this fall,” the AP reported.
Bangs’ ruling accepted an argument from Sandusky’s lawyer, Chuck Benjamin, which disputed former FBI director Louis Freeh’s report which claimed that “Sandusky received 71 post-retirement payments from Penn State” when it was actually “just a handful.”
“The unfortunate thing here is that SERS acted on the mistaken belief that the Freeh report was correct when the undisputed evidence showed it wasn’t correct,” Benjamin said.
The pension ruling came on the same day that it was determined in a report that politics did not play a role in the delay in bringing charges against Sandusky. The report, which was commissioned by Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane, blamed the three-year delay on “communication problems,” among other issues, per the AP.
“The facts show an inexcusable lack of urgency in charging and stopping a serial sexual predator,” said Kane. “The report documents that more investigative work took place in just one month in 2011 than in all of either 2009 or 2010.”
Kane, a Democrat, made a thorough investigation of then-Attorney General Tom Corbett’s handling of the Sandusky investigation a central part of her campaign. Corbett, a Republican, was running for Pennsylvania state governor at the time of the investigation. He was sworn into office as Governor in January 2011.
The report was written by Geoff Moulton, a former federal prosecutor. Moulton wrote that there was “no direct evidence that electoral politics influenced any important decision made in the Sandusky investigation,” according to the AP.
Sandusky, 70, is serving a 30-to-60 year sentence after being convicted in June 2012.
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