The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

August 20, 2013

State News in Brief | PSU board: Student trustee had a choice

Associated Press

HARRISBURG — The student trustee on Penn State’s board “had to make a choice” between helping select the university’s next president or remaining a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed against the NCAA by the family of the late football coach Joe Paterno, a board spokesman said Tuesday.

The trustee, 23-year-old graduate student Peter Khoury, told the Centre Daily Times for a story published Tuesday that he is withdrawing from the lawsuit, which seeks to overturn stiff NCAA sanctions imposed last year because of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. The sanctions include a four-year bowl-game ban and a $60 million fine.

The board is not a party to the litigation.

Khoury said he was threatened with removal from the 12-trustee presidential selection committee if he did not drop out of the suit. The committee is searching for a successor to university President Rodney Erickson, who plans to retire when his contract expires in June.

Man says he’s proud of Paterno billboard

HARRISBURG – A central Pennsylvania man says he paid for a billboard on a rural highway praising Joe Paterno because he wanted to shine a light on the late Penn State football coach’s accomplishments.

Larry Peters, 79, a Hummelstown native, told on Monday that he sponsored the billboard near Thompsontown in Juniata County, about 50 miles from State College.

The two-panel billboard touts Paterno’s 409 career victories beneath a blue sign with lettering that reads “You can’t cover up 61 years of success with honor.”

A group called Penn Staters For Responsible Stewardship designed similar billboards placed across the state last fall, but said it wasn’t behind the latest one.

The billboards take issue with investigators who determined Paterno knew about past child sex abuse by former assistant Jerry Sandusky, who was convicted and imprisoned last year.

The NCAA has sanctioned the university over the sex abuse scandal, but supporters say Paterno, who was fired and died in January 2012, wasn’t at fault.

Peters said he believes officials were merely assuming that Paterno knew about Sandusky’s actions, but he doesn’t believe that.

New date set for judge facing charges

WASHINGTON – A new preliminary hearing date has been scheduled for a former western Pennsylvania judge charged with stealing cocaine from police evidence files in cases before him. 

Former Washington County Judge Paul Pozonsky’s preliminary hearing has been postponed from Wednesday to

Sept. 18 at the request of his attorney, who had a scheduling conflict.

Pozonsky was charged by the state attorney general in May after retiring abruptly without explanation and moving to Anchorage, Alaska, last June.

Pozonsky is accused of stealing the drugs and trying to replace some of them with baking soda before a supervising judge removed Pozonsky from hearing criminal cases early last year. 

Senior District Judge Michael Gerheim of Armstrong County has been appointed to handle Pozonsky’s preliminary hearing to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest.

Intermediate unit sued over same-sex benefits

PITTSBURGH – A math teacher is suing a western Pennsylvania public school support agency seeking benefits for his same-sex partner.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday on behalf of 47-year-old Bradley Ankney argues he’s unfairly being denied benefits that are available to heterosexual colleagues who can legally marry in Pennsylvania.

The Allegheny Intermediate Unit provides benefits to married partners, and Ankney contends the policy discriminates because gays can’t legally marry in Pennsylvania. However, the intermediate unit doesn’t provide benefits to unmarried heterosexual partners, either.

The intermediate unit referred comment to its attorney, who did not immediately return a call.

Reggie Shuford, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, which filed the lawsuit, says, “Conditioning employment benefits on marriage discriminates against gays and lesbians because they cannot get married under Pennsylvania law ... ."