Retired judge appointed to handle Penn State officials’ case


HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – A senior judge will preside over the criminal trial of three former Penn State administrators on charges stemming from their handling of child molestation complaints about former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, a court spokesman said Friday.

Retired Berks County Judge John Boccabella was appointed June 30 by the state’s chief justice to handle the case in Harrisburg after Dauphin County judges recused themselves.

Criminal charges against former university vice president Gary Schultz and former athletic director Tim Curley were first filed in 2011, followed a year later by charges against former president Graham Spanier.

All three men vigorously deny the allegations against them, and some of their more serious charges were dismissed in January by an appeals court that determined their right to legal representation was violated by the actions of the university’s then-general counsel.

The case against the three has dragged on largely in secret, as the appeals issue concerned matters related to the grand jury that investigated in 2011 and recommended charges against Curley, Schultz and Sandusky.

More recently, a Dauphin County judge directed defense attorneys and the attorney general’s office to file pretrial motions this month and let him know if they wanted a hearing. Now that Boccabella has the case, it’s not clear what the next step will be.

“My understanding is he’s done nothing but read the case files,” Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts spokesman Jim Koval said Friday.

In requesting the assignment of an out-of-county judge, Dauphin County President Judge Richard Lewis sought someone who was not affiliated with Penn State, the state police or the attorney general’s office.

Boccabella did not return a phone message seeking comment.

Sandusky was convicted in 2012 of 45 counts of child sexual abuse involving 10 boys. He was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison and is appealing.

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