By David DeKok
HARRISBURG, Pa. (Reuters) - A Pennsylvania judge ruled on Wednesday that a man who says Jerry Sandusky molested him in 1988 is not barred by the statute of limitations from pursuing a private criminal complaint against the jailed former Penn State assistant football coach.
The man, who alleges Sandusky sexually molested him when he was 16 years old, had until 2021 to bring court action in the case, ruled Judge Thomas Kistler of the Centre County Court of Common Pleas in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania.
“We are thrilled,” said Daniel Kiss, a lawyer in Altoona for Anthony Spinelli, 43, who lives in Massachusetts. “We are speechless.”
Kistler’s ruling involved complicated dissection of the statute of limitations regarding sex crimes by public officials. At a hearing last week, the judge admitted to having his clerk draw up a chart showing the multiple extension of the deadline in such cases since 1988.
In announcing his decision, the judge returned Spinelli’s private complaint against the former assistant to the state Attorney General’s office for a final determination of whether there is a plausible case against Sandusky. That office would also prosecute the case.
“At this stage, our attorneys have not yet had the chance to review the judge’s ruling,” said Jeffrey Johnson, a spokesman for the attorney general. “They plan to do that and will act accordingly.”
Lawyers for the Attorney General’s office told Spinelli earlier this year they believed the facts of his complaint against Sandusky were “compelling.” But they also believed the statute of limitations expired in 2001, when he turned 30 years old.
Spinelli was a teenaged football standout from Leominster, Massachusetts, when he attended Sandusky’s football camp for high school players in June 1988 on the Penn State campus in State College.
It was during the camp, Spinelli said, that Sandusky molested him. His complaint provided graphic details.
He came forward in 2011 after Sandusky’s arrest after numerous of similar complaints against the former coach.
While the Pennsylvania State Police found his case worthy, Attorney General Linda Kelly believed the statute of limitations was a barrier to successful prosecution.
Spinelli was not among the eight victims who testified against Sandusky at his trial in June 2012. The former coach was convicted of 45 of 48 charges against him and is serving 30-60 years at the state’s “supermax” prison in Waynesburg.
Sandusky is scheduled to be in Bellefonte on Thursday for a hearing related to his appeal for a new trial.
(Editing By Frank McGurty and David Gregorio)