Lawyer: State twisted law to deny Sandusky a pension

Posted: March 22, 2014

An attorney for Jerry Sandusky contends that members of the state retirement system used an unprecedented and improper interpretation of the law to strip Sandusky of his pension after his conviction on child sex-abuse charges.

The State Employees Retirement System revoked Sandusky's $4,900 monthly Pennsylvania State University payments after concluding that his 2012 conviction violated laws governing such pensions.

Sandusky stopped working as a Penn State assistant football coach in 1999, but the agency concluded he was "an actual or de facto employee" of the school through 2008, a span during which he sexually abused boys.

As part of his appeal of that decision, lawyer Charles Benjamin argued in new filings last week that the phrase de facto highlighted the error underlying the decision.

"The entire 'de facto' employee argument appears to have been manufactured by SERS simply to deny (Sandusky) his rights," Benjamin wrote. "No reported case in the history of Pennsylvania jurisprudence has ever applied a 'de facto' employee analysis to deny someone his retirement earnings, and SERS should not bow to political pressure and 'mob rule.' "

Neither Benjamin nor members of the retirement system would comment on the filing.

An attorney representing the agency has previously argued that Sandusky served as an "ambassador" for Penn State in his post-coaching years, and that he received payments from the school during that time - an assertion Sandusky's lawyer disputes.

Benjamin also contends that Sandusky's retirement benefits were vested before 2004, when the state amended a law to include some sexual-assault crimes among those that could lead to pension revocation.

SERS lawyers are expected to file a response to Benjamin's argument in the coming weeks, after which a hearing officer will issue a ruling.

Sandusky, 70, is serving a 30- to 60-year prison sentence.


asteele@phillynews.com

610-313-8113

@AESteele

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