Pennsylvania’s State Employee Retirement System (SERS) is seeking to void former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky’s pension plan; he was sentenced yesterday to 30 to 60 years in prison for molesting 10 boys.
In a letter obtained by The Associated Press, the agency references two convictions in particular, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and indecent assault, as grounds for revoking the annual $59,000 pension Sandusky’s received since retiring in 1999. The letter stated they will also revoke the spousal benefits of his wife, Dottie.
SERS based their decision on a 1978 pension forfeiture law which denies retirement benefits to any state employee convicted of financial crimes relating to their office. This forfeiture of benefits specifically sites Sandusky’s crimes committed after 2004, which is the year Pennsylvania expanded the law to include any public school employee convicted of sex crimes against a student.
SERS Board Chairman Nicholas Maiale explained to Pennsylvania’s The Patriot-News that the decision to revoke Sandusky’s retirement benefits comes after months of administrative review. Maiale also stated their findings are now open to appeal, a move Sandusky’s lawyer, Karl Rominger, vows to pursue.
In a statement to The Associated Press, Rominger says he believes the findings won’t hold up in Pennsylvania’s court system: “It’s my inclination to believe that they are just going through the motions to try to throw some red meat to the public, but they know they are going to lose.” Rominger bases his assessment on the fact that his client was convicted of abusing children who were not current Penn State students.
The original 1978 law includes a provision for forfeiture if it was public employment which allowed the convicted party to commit a crime; this means the court could consider the work Sandusky did for his charity for troubled youths, The Second Mile, applicable, considering he often used Penn State facilities and was seen by eyewitnesses engaging in sexual abuse on school grounds. After taking his appeal to SERS board, Sandusky will then have the option of appealing to the state.