Anthony Spinelli’s allegations against Jerry Sandusky will have a chance at being heard in court.
The 43-year-old man who was a football prospect back in 1988 came forward openly in June claiming to be a victim of the former Nittany Lions defensive coordinator.
The case he filed in Centre County court at that time was not against Sandusky, but against Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane, Executive Deputy Attorney General Lawrence Cherba and Chief Deputy Attorney General Laura Ditka, appealing the Office of the Attorney General’s decision to not pursue the private criminal complaint he tried to bring against Sandusky.
According to court documents, Ditka and OAG Agent Anthony Sassano met in April with Spinelli, who claimed his assault at a Penn State football camp was first reported to state police in 2011. Spinelli’s case was not one of those selected for prosecution when the OAG brought Sandusky to trial in 2012, where he was convicted for 45 of 48 counts related to child sexual abuse.
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The OAG’s office argued that the case was too far back, falling outside the shifting timelines of the statute of limitations and special rules regarding the crimes and the people who commit them.
Spinelli’s attorney, Steven Passarello, read the law differently, claiming that by stacking the various exceptions, his client met the threshold to have his case heard.
On Wednesday, an order filed in Centre County court showed a judge agreed.
Centre County President Judge Thomas King Kistler penned an order sending the case back to Kane and her team to take a new look at the allegations.
“The (OAG) is hereby directed to resume evaluation of whether the allegations set forth establish a prima facie case for the crimes charged,” Kistler wrote.
The deadlines in the case were a moving target, changed repeatedly over the years by the state, from 1993 to 1994 to 2001 or 2002 or 2009, but ultimately Kistler looked at one more interpretation that pushed back even further. In January 2007, a law was passed making it possible to file charges until the alleged victim turned 50, meaning Spinelli’s case could be filed as long as it was done before 2021.
Kistler said he saw “no reason (Spinelli) would not be entitled to use the public employee exception” in the law, as Sandusky was an employee of Penn State at the time of the alleged assault.
To justify that, Kistler looked at the Pennsylvania State Employee Retirement Board decision to take away Sandusky’s pension under provisions of the Public Employee Pension Forfeiture Act. The board found that Sandusky was a public employee for 40 years in a decision handed down in December 2014.