Jerry Sandusky might be going back to trial on new accusations of child sexual abuse.
A Pennsylvania judge has ruled that prosecutors must consider a new criminal complaint filed by a 43-year-old Boston man who says Sandusky sexually assaulted him when he was a high school football recruit in the late 1980s.
Centre County Judge Thomas King Kistler ruled Wednesday that the statute of limitations in Pennsylvania has an exception for state employees and that Sandusky, the former assistant football coach at Penn State, falls into that category.
The ruling means that Anthony Spinelli, who was once a star high school athlete sought after by football and baseball teams, may get his day in court.
The ruling also “blew the doors wide open” for other victims who previously believed they were outside the statute, said Daniel Kiss, the Altoona attorney who filed the petition on behalf of Spinelli.
Sandusky was convicted in 2012 of sexually abusing 10 boys, all from the 1990s and 2000s. But at least 30 men were involved in a civil settlement with Penn State, and the number of victims could be even higher.
Prosecutors have said that Sandusky used his former children’s charity, The Second Mile, as a victim factory, and his notoriety and access to Penn State as a perfect mask for his crimes.
“Anyone who is under 50 now has a legitimate argument to get back into court,” Kiss said.
Allegations of a promising life derailed
Spinelli alleges he was assaulted twice, once in the showers in the assistant coach’s locker room at Penn State, and once in Sandusky’s office. He said his promising life was derailed by the abuse. He turned to alcohol and drugs, “one episode triggers another one and it becomes an everlasting nightmare,” he told CNN last year.
In his 20s, he racked up a rap sheet that included drug and theft charges and later a killing that he pleaded down to manslaughter. After watching Sandusky’s arrest from a prison television in 2011, he called a lawyer and was interviewed by police who found him to be credible. But they believed his case was too old to pursue under the statute of limitations.
He filed his own criminal complaint last year, contesting that. This ruling brings him “peace of mind,” he said.
“It’s never going to fix anything,” he said. “The ability to look the person who has harmed you in the eye and being able to (ask) “Why? Why did you do that?” And in a sense getting an answer to that by having my day will mean the world to me and my family,” Spinelli said.
The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office still has the discretion to pursue charges based on the evidence, but Kiss pointed to a letter written by the lead prosecutor calling Spinelli’s story “compelling.”
“There’s a legitimate chance he’s going to have to stare Jerry Sandusky in the eye from about 10 feet away and tell what happened,” Kiss said. “That’s what he told us he wanted, and that’s why we did what we did. Every victim deserves the right to face their accuser and have that closure, that justice, to speak what occurred to them. That’s what Anthony wanted.”
Sandusky has always maintained his innocence and is appealing his conviction. He is due in court in Pennsylvania on Thursday.