Jerry Sandusky Scandal

Ex-Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky files petition to appeal his conviction in federal court

Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky and his lawyers filed a petition Tuesday to move his appeals process to federal court.

The petition filed in the U.S. Middle District Court of Pennsylvania ultimately seeks a reversal of Sandusky’s 45-count child sexual abuse conviction, defense lawyer Al Lindsay said.

Sandusky, 75, was convicted and sentenced in 2012 to 30 to 60 years. He is detained at Laurel Highlands state prison in Somerset County.

He and defense lawyer Peter Goldberger — whom Sandusky believes is the “foremost expert” on habeas corpus petitions in Pennsylvania — argued Sandusky’s constitutional rights have been violated during the past seven years.

“It’s our position that the Constitution was violated in a number of respects,” Lindsay said Wednesday. “We are looking to the federal court for the same kind of relief we looked for in the state court.”

They argued the state attorney general’s office violated Sandusky’s right to remain silent during trial, his right to due process and that he received ineffective legal assistance.

That included Sandusky’s former lawyer Joseph Amendola allowing him to participate in an ill-fated interview with Bob Costas.

“Petitioner’s case was notorious and highly publicized, with the overwhelming weight of pretrial publicity being negative,” Goldberger wrote. “... At the last moment, counsel yielded to Costas’ request that petitioner himself participate in the televised interview. Petitioner came across badly during that interview, and the resulting video was used as damning evidence against him at trial.”

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Defense lawyer Al Lindsay arrives at the Centre County Courthouse for Jerry Sandusky's post-conviction collateral relief hearing on Friday, March 24, 2017. Abby Drey

The state Superior Court in 2017 rejected that claim and said Amendola “adequately prepared” Sandusky for the interview. Sandusky has no other pending petitions or appeals at either the state or federal level, Goldberger wrote.

Sandusky is scheduled to be resentenced Nov. 8 at the Centre County Courthouse. Lindsay doubts the hearing will be rescheduled because of Sandusky’s petition.

“This is an unusual case,” Lindsay said. “... There is a legal issue concerning whether or not this thing should be filed now or we should file it after we go through any appeals on the resentencing again. But, of course, we can’t take that chance.”

The state attorney general’s office did not immediately respond Wednesday to requests for comment.

The state Supreme Court earlier this month appointed Warren and Forest County Judge Maureen Skerda to handle the case. Jefferson County Judge John Foradora recused himself in September.

A state appeals court in February rejected most of Sandusky’s appeal, including his request for a new trial, but ruled mandatory minimums had been misapplied and ordered a new sentencing.

Bret Pallotto primarily reports on courts and crime for the Centre Daily Times. He grew up in Lewistown and graduated from Lock Haven University.