WILLIAMSPORT — Last call for convicted child molester and former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky remains alive but on hiatus.
That’s the gist of the ruling by U.S. Intermediate District Judge Malachy E. Mannion on Thursday.
The judge agreed with Magistrate Judge Joseph F. Saporito Jr. that he lacked jurisdiction because an inmate cannot file a federal habeas corpus petition until there is a final judgment.
While Sandusky’s conviction and 30-60 year sentence were upheld, the state’s Superior Court last May returned the case to Center County Court to determine the justification for the $95,048 restitution. which he was ordered to pay. A hearing on the issue of restitution is scheduled for May 17 in Bellefonte.
Saporito recommended summarily dismissing the habeas petition, but Mannion opted to issue a stay instead, explaining that he did so out of caution to avoid a possible statute of limitations issue in the future.
A defendant has one year from the end of post-conviction state proceedings to file a habeas petition. The Sandusky State Court award is not final due to the issue of restitution.
However, Mannion, citing a federal appeals court decision in another case, said the one-year period may already be underway as to conviction and sentencing, as the matter before the court of state is restitution only.
It is unclear whether the sentence imposed following the resolution of the restitution issue will constitute a new judgment on his jail term, he wrote.
Sandusky’s attorney, EJ Rymsza, had urged the judge to stay the petition instead of adopting Saporito’s recommendation to dismiss it.
Sandusky, 78, who maintains he is innocent, was sentenced in 2019 to 30 to 60 years in prison on 45 child sex charges.
A Center County jury found he sexually abused 10 boys at his youth charity, the Second Mile, between 1994 and 2008.
He bases his habeas petition on allegations of inefficiency by attorneys Joseph Amendola and Karl Rominger.
The petition cites numerous instances where Sandusky believes his attorneys have been ineffective.
The Sandusky scandal resulted in the firing of head football coach Joe Paterno and Penn State president Graham Spanier.
Spanier was convicted of a misdemeanor of endangering the welfare of a child and spent two months in prison.