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Penn State child sex abuser Jerry Sandusky to seek reduced sentence

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By Reuters
Penn State child sex abuser Jerry Sandusky to seek reduced sentence
Convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky (C), a former assistant football coach at Penn State University, leaves after his appeal hearing at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, U.S. on October 29, 2015. REUTERS/Pat Little/File Photo   -   Copyright  Pat Little(Reuters)

By David DeKok

BELLEFONTE, Pa. (Reuters) – Former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky, convicted in 2012 of abusing his position to sexually assault teenage boys, is due in court on Friday to seek a shorter sentence after his current one was ruled unconstitutional.

After his conviction, Sandusky, 75, was sentenced to 30 to 60 years, with a mandatory minimum that has become illegal since a trial judge imposed it seven years ago. He would not have been eligible for parole until he turns 98 years old.

Following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2013 that requiring judges to impose mandatory minimum sentences was unconstitutional, a Pennsylvania Superior Court in February ordered that Sandusky be resentenced.

But the state court rejected Sandusky’s request for a new trail based on his claim that he had ineffective legal counsel during his trial, a decision the Pennsylvania Supreme Court declined to review.

Sandusky’s appellate lawyer, Peter Goldberger, last month also sought to petition a federal court to vacate his conviction, but was told he could not do so until he is resentenced.

In June 2012, Sandusky was convicted of 25 felonies and 20 misdemeanours stemming from charges that he molested at least 10 boys between 1994 and 2009.

For his resentencing hearing at the Centre County Court of Common Pleas, just 10 miles (16 kms) from Penn State where he had been assistant to longtime head coach Joe Paterno, Sandusky is set to appear before visiting Judge Maureen Skerda of Warren County.

Two other judges who had presided over the case, including Sandusky’s trial judge, have recused themselves.

While the judge has the latitude to reduce Sandusky’s sentence, she also could impose exactly the same term as the trial judge did, as long as she didn’t base it on a minimum sentencing requirement, Goldberger said in February, before he took Sandusky on as a client.

Sandusky, who founded the now-defunct Second Mile charity for at-risk youth, has been held at the state’s Laurel Highlands correctional facility in Somerset.

(Writing by Peter Szekely in New York; Editing by Scott Malone and Bernadette Baum)