By David DeKok
HARRISBURG, Pa. (Reuters) – A Pennsylvania court on Friday ordered former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky to be resentenced for his child sex abuse conviction, saying the mandatory minimum sentence of 30-60 years had become illegal since the trial judge imposed it.
In its ruling on Friday, the Pennsylvania Superior Court denied Sandusky, now 75, a new trial on charges of raping boys left in his care, even as it said a resentencing was warranted.
Al Lindsay, Sandusky’s lawyer, said he planned to appeal the court’s rejection of his claim that the former assistant to legendary Penn State head coach Joe Paterno had ineffective legal counsel during his trial.
Sandusky’s conviction was “one of the most profound injustices in the history of American jurisprudence,” Lindsay wrote in a statement, saying he would bring the case to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
The resentencing will likely take place in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, by visiting Judge John Foradora of Jefferson County, who began hearing Sandusky’s post-conviction appeal after the trial judge, John Cleland, recused himself.
Peter Goldberger, a lawyer in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, who specializes in state and federal appeals, said Friday’s ruling stemmed from a 2013 U.S. Supreme Court decision that it was unconstitutional to require judges to impose mandatory minimum sentences.
At the time of Sandusky’s sentencing in October 2012, Pennsylvania imposed a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in cases of sexual assault against children under age 16.
Goldberger said the resentencing judge could give Sandusky exactly the same sentence if he felt it was justified, so long as he did not base it on a mandatory minimum. He could also reduce it if he believed the defendant’s age, health or other circumstances warranted it.
There was no indication on Monday when resentencing might take place.
(Editing by Frank McGurty and James Dalgleish)