Court: Sandusky Must Receive Pension Benefits

Penn State AbuseWell, this is surprising.

Today, the PA Commonwealth Court ruled that Jerry Sandusky must have his pension benefits restored.

Sandusky’s pension was taken away after he was convicted in 2012 on 45 counts of sexual abuse. Yet the Commonwealth Court unanimously ruled that the State Employees’ Retirement Board was in error when it took away his pension because his criminal activity took place after he was a Penn State employee.

“The board conflated the requirements that Mr. Sandusky engage in ‘work relating to’ PSU and that he engage in that work ‘for’ PSU,” wrote Judge Dan Pellegrini. “Mr. Sandusky’s performance of services that benefited PSU does not render him a PSU employee.”

Apparently, the Court does not believe Sandusky was an employee of Penn State after 1999 despite the fact that he had an office on campus. This also ignores the fact that Sandusky was accused by several people of abuse going back to the 1970’s and was first investigated in 1998.

Sandusky’s lawyer Richard A. Beran praised the decision.

“Perhaps a majority lacked the courage to apply the law as stated,” Beran said. “It was a 4-to-3 decision (in 2012), certainly one that probably pleased the public, in light of the current state of the Pennsylvania pension system, but under the law it was very clear he was entitled to it, and his wife is entitled to the pension if Jerry predeceases her.”

Matt Sandusky, the adopted son of Jerry and his wife Dottie, has indicated in the past that Dottie may have had knowledge of her husband’s activities. One victim even testified she was in the house during an incident of abuse.

“We just received the order today,” State Employee’s Retirement System spokesman Jay Pagni said. “We are reviewing it and we will present that analysis to the board.”

SERS has the right to appeal the decision to the State Supreme Court.

Until then, Pennsylvanians will all be paying into a $4,900 monthly pension for Jerry and Dottie Sandusky.

9 Responses

  1. He’ll get the pension money, but won’t the victims be able to garnish those funds? I don’t know the details of his conviction or plea, but I’d bet he owes a lot for restitution…

  2. One wonders whether had the investigation and prosecution timely begun when the first victim complained, we could have a different result. it is unfortunate that Penn State did not aggressively investigate when this criminal abuse of children was first brought to their attention. it is unfortunate that the pension forfeiture laws don’t strip a public employee of pension rights for crimes discovered and prosecuted after they left office. it’s also unfortunate that commonwealth court believed Sandusky not to be a de facto employee of penn state when he had all of those apparent indicia of employment- his own locker, access to the grounds, access to football freebies. and access to poor little kids.

  3. @gulag, it should be but not for the reasons you suggest:

    “The Pension Forfeiture Act was enacted on July 8, 1978, and provides
    for the forfeiture of the pensions of “public employees”8
    and their beneficiaries upon
    conviction of “any crime related to public office or public employment.” ”

    As long as that qualifying language is in there, a pension can’t be stripped for post-retirement criminal conduct unrelated to their office. But reform is impossible because it would interfere with government employee and retiree right to commit crimes without consequences.

  4. I hope this is appealed to PA Supreme Court. It will be a good test of their legal acumen and intelligence.

  5. This is why Gov Wolf want higher taxes! Because public employees do not pay for their retirement.Public employees should fully fund their own pensions or retirement accounts.

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