State pension still possible for Sandusky

LEFT: In this booking photo released early Saturday morning June 23, 2012 by the Centre County Correctional Facility in Bellefonte, Pa., former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky is shown. RIGHT: Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, center, leaves the Centre County Courthouse in custody with Centre County Sheriff Denny Nau, left, after being found guilty of multiple charges of child sexual abuse in Bellefonte, Pa., Friday, June 22, 2012.

June 27, 2012 8:21:08 PM PDT
A state lawmaker said Wednesday he would try to force a House vote on a long-stalled resolution that seeks a federal review of how the state attorney general's office handled its investigation into Jerry Sandusky.

Rep. Brandon Neuman, D-Washington, said he would use a parliamentary maneuver known as a discharge resolution to get a vote on the resolution, which was first introduced in December.

"I think it could produce some answers to questions that the public and elected officials have," Neuman said. "Why it took so long, why was Jerry Sandusky allowed to be around children during the investigation."

He said people deserve to know why it took years to produce charges against the former Penn State assistant football coach, who was found guilty Friday of 45 counts of child sexual abuse and was acquitted of three counts.

The resolution asks for a special counsel to be appointed to determine why, "with apparent probable cause consisting of credible eyewitness accounts of sexual abuse of children in its possession," the attorney general's office "failed to protect those children and others" by filing charges sooner.

Sandusky was charged in November and December as the result of an investigation that got under way three years earlier, in late 2008.

Nils Frederiksen, spokesman for the state attorney general's office, said the verdict showed the importance of a methodical approach.

"The office has been very clear throughout this whole investigation about the need to ensure there was a thorough investigation and a thorough prosecution, and the court action bears that out," Frederiksen said.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office in Harrisburg declined to comment.

Sandusky, 68, is jailed in Bellefonte to await sentencing in about three months. He is likely to spend the rest of his life in prison for the abuse of 10 boys over a 15-year period. He repeatedly denied the allegations, and his lawyers have said they plan to appeal the convictions.

Also Wednesday, Pennsylvania's public employee pension system said it will not be able to say whether Sandusky will lose his retirement benefits until after he is sentenced. A spokeswoman for the State Employees' Retirement System said the agency does not speculate about potential future actions under the Public Employee Pension Forfeiture Act.

Offenses that trigger forfeiture are generally along the lines of theft, bribery, obstruction and perjury. However, a pension system document provided by the agency in response to questions about Sandusky said forfeiture can also occur when a school employee commits certain sex offenses against a student.

The Patriot-News of Harrisburg reported in November that Sandusky's pension is about $59,000. He also collected a $148,000 lump sum payment when he retired from the university in 1999.

A spokesman for the House Republican caucus, which as the majority party controls the voting calendar, said the resolution had not moved forward while the criminal trial was pending. With the verdict, House GOP spokesman Steve Miskin said, he was uncertain whether the resolution would be adopted.

Neuman said he had obtained the 25 votes for a discharge resolution, and hopes to bring up the matter for a floor vote on Friday.

Questions about the pace of the investigation have repeatedly arisen, as child sexual abuse cases often move rapidly.

On Monday, Gov. Tom Corbett, who was attorney general when that office got the case on a referral from the State College-area prosecutor, said the risk that Sandusky might abuse others while being investigated was a consideration.

"I believed (Sandusky) had to know we were looking at him at some point in time," Corbett said. "In a sense, if you know that they're looking at you, you kind of back away. But it was a calculated risk, not one that you really easily want to take."

Neuman said he hoped a federal investigation would also explore whether Corbett's gubernatorial run influenced decision-making about the Sandusky case.

"Best-case scenario, the attorney general handled it perfectly, and they have answers to all these questions," Neuman said.

Corbett press secretary Kevin Harley, who worked for him as attorney general and played a prominent role in the gubernatorial campaign, said there was no discussion about how the investigation might affect the campaign, and the campaign had no effect on Sandusky case decisions.