Penn State's Sandusky should face new charges, lawyer argues

By David DeKok
Jerry Sandusky leaves the Centre County Courthouse after his sentencing in his child sex abuse case in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania October 9, 2012. REUTERS/Pat Little

By David DeKok

BELLEFONTE, Pa. (Reuters) - A Massachusetts man who claims he was molested by former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky as a teenager told a Pennsylvania judge that that case should be prosecuted even though the events in question date to 1988.

A lawyer for Anthony Spinelli, Jr., now 43, argued that the statute of limitations - the deadline for bringing criminal charges - still had years to run in the case and that Spinelli's private criminal complaint should go forward.

"My client wants to come into court and stare down the person who did this to him," said Daniel Kiss, a lawyer who represents Spinelli.

Lawyers for the Pennsylvania Attorney General countered by saying that state law precluded a prosecution of Sandusky, who served as an assistant to legendary Penn State head coach Joe Paterno, no matter what evidence existed to support Spinelli's accusations.

"Every victim is not entitled to stare down that person," said Laura Ditka, a lawyer from the Attorney General's staff. "Is there a crime that can be prosecuted?"

Judge Thomas Kistler of the Centre County Court of Common Pleas, admitted in court that the Pennsylvania statute of limitations on sex crimes was so confusing that he had his clerk draw up a chart. He said he would take the arguments under consideration and render a decision at a later date.

Spinelli declined comment afterward. A friend, Nick Carbone, said Spinelli was upset by the state's arguments.

Attorney General Kathleen Kane ruled in May that while Spinelli's complaint was "compelling," she believed too much time had elapsed to prosecute the case successfully.

In 2012, Sandusky was convicted of 45 of 48 child molestation charges filed against him, but Spinelli's case was not part of the prosecution. The former coach is serving a 30 to 60 year sentence in the state's "supermax" prison in Waynesburg.

Spinelli, then a 16-year-old standout high school quarterback from Leominster, Massachusetts, says he was twice molested by Sandusky in June 1988 at an invitation-only Penn State football camp for young players, according to court documents.

After Sandusky's arrest in 2011, Spinelli came forward.

Although the state police found his complaint credible, the appeal brief says, then-Attorney General Linda Kelly took no action. He was not among the eight victims who testified in Sandusky's 2012 trial. Ditka said Thursday that the statute of limitations problem drove Kelly's decision.

Kelly could not be reached by Reuters for comment. Kane took over the post in 2013.

(Editing by Frank McGurty and Christian Plumb)