By David DeKok
HARRISBURG, Pa. (Reuters) - Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant football coach sentenced to decades in prison for sexually molesting boys, has lost his first appeal of a decision to strip him of his $4,900 monthly pension, but his lawyer says the fight is not over.
Charles J. Benjamin Jr. told Reuters on Friday he would appeal a decision by the State Employees Retirement System (SERS) to deny Sandusky’s motion to have his pension restored. In doing so, the governing board of SERS disregarded an official's earlier recommendation to restore the pension.
Sandusky has 30 days to appeal Thursday's SERS ruling to the state's Commonwealth Court.
In a case that rocked the world of big-time college sports, Sandusky was found guilty in 2012 of sexually abusing 10 boys over 15 years, using his position in the prestigious football program to gain access to youth. The former coach, now 70, was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison.
In a second matter related to the Sandusky scandal, the Commonwealth Court on Thursday delayed until Feb. 17 the beginning of a trial on a lawsuit against the NCAA over sanctions imposed by the sports governing body to punish Penn State for its response to the scandal.
The suit, which aims to roll back the National Collegiate Athletic Association consent decree that punishes the Penn State football program for the way it handled the allegations against Sandusky, was filed by State Senator Jake Corman and State Treasurer Rob McCord.
The trial had been scheduled to open Jan. 6, but Judge Anne Covey said she needed more time to resolve document discovery issues.
On the pension issue, the governing board of SERS ruled that Sandusky was a Pennsylvania State University employee after he retired as defensive coordinator in 1999.
As such he was affected by a 2004 law that allows the state to strip the pension of a retired employee, if convicted of sexual misconduct.
The board’s opinion called Sandusky's 1999 retirement “a sham” intended to allow him to take advantage of a handsome benefits package briefly offered to retirees by the state.
After retiring, the coach was immediately recalled to service for the 1999 football season. Later he signed an agreement that gave him access to athletic facilities, office space, and free admission to a university skybox at football games in return for promoting Penn State football. Sandusky allegedly used those perks to get close to some of the boys he was accused of molesting.
The agreement effectively made Sandusky a university employee, the board said, and not a volunteer as he contended.
Sandusky's one-time boss, coaching legend Joe Paterno lost his job in the aftermath of the scandal. Paterno died in 2012 at age 85.
(Editing By Frank McGurty and Gunna Dickson)