Child-sex abuser Jerry Sandusky adamantly proclaims his innocence, even asking the state Supreme Court to overturn his conviction. So far, his claim is falling on deaf ears. Sandusky stands to fare much better in his effort to win back his $4,900 monthly state pension - nearly $60,000 annually - that was taken away when he was convicted in 2012 on 45 counts of child abuse. Sandusky, longtime assistant to legendary Nittany Lions football coach Joe Paterno , testified on Monday - via video feed from prison - at a hearing of the State Employees' Retirement System in Harrisburg . The state's pension system stripped Sandusky of his pension shortly after his conviction, saying his crimes against children were related to his public employment. The action precludes Sandusky's wife, Dottie, from collecting benefits. Among other things, Sandusky testified that he decided to retire in 1999 because of an early retirement incentive that would boost his pension. (Speculation at the time was that he left after being told he was not a candidate to replace Paterno.) Sandusky, 69, is serving a 30-year sentence in state prison in southwestern Pennsylvania . Lawyers for the pension system say a number of Sandusky's crimes occurred after September 2004 , when the pension forfeiture act of 1978 was amended to include indecent assault and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse. They say the retired Sandusky was considered a "de facto" university employee at the time of those crimes. But Sandusky's lawyers point out that their client enrolled in the retirement plan in 1969, nearly a decade before the forfeiture act was implemented. Also, Sandusky was not on the university payroll in 2004 when the the act was amended. (The retirement system permits enrollment by Penn State employees even though the school is not state-owned.) Moreover, Sandusky's retirement benefits were vested and cannot be revoked, his lawyers argue. The hearing was expected to last three days, and it may be months before the hearing examiner makes his recommendation to the retirement system board. If the board rules against Sandusky, he may appeal to Commonwealth Court. But it may not come to that. Sandusky makes a more persuasive argument for keeping his pension than he does for getting back his freedom.
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