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Senator Can’t Fight for PA’s Child-Abuse Fund

(CN) - The senator behind a law that would let Pennsylvania grab the $60 million fund Penn State created for victims of child sex abuse cannot intervene in a challenge to it, a federal judge ruled.

Penn State University had created the fund as part of the sanction it faces for allegedly ignoring the years of sexual abuse its assistant football coach inflicted on children.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association imposed a $60 million sanction upon the university and barred its football team from postseason play for four years, among other things.

Jerry Sandusky meanwhile is serving 30 to 60 years in prison for 45 counts of sexual abuse of young boys.

In late 2012, Sen. Jake Corman announced that he would introduce a law to filter those funds and any others drawn from penalized state colleges to benefit the commonwealth.

The Institution of Higher Education Consent Decree Endowment Act would let the state dump the $60 million set aside for victims of child sex abuse into the state treasury.

Corman, a Republican who chairs the appropriations committee, next sued the NCAA, alleging that it intended "to wrest such a large sum of Pennsylvania public funds ... [but] has refused to submit to any control by Pennsylvania elected officials."

He then moved to enjoin the NCAA from "disposing of, reducing, or otherwise dissipating outside of Pennsylvania" any of Penn State's first payment of $12 million.

Gov. Tom Corbett, also a Republican, sued the NCAA in January 2013, claiming it had "exploited" the scandal to impose "crippling" sanctions on Penn State, in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act.

The NCAA filed its lawsuit against Corbett and three other state officials the day the new law was codified, Feb. 20.

It said the act is meant "to disrupt interstate commerce by attempting to legislate where private parties spend their money, and to confiscate funds intended for the victims of child sexual abuse nationwide to be used solely for the benefit of Pennsylvania residents."

That same day, Sen. Corman amended his complaint to add that the Penn State consent decree violated the new law. State Treasurer Robb McCord later joined as a plaintiff.

While Chief U.S. District Judge Yvette Kane dismissed the governor's suit in June, Corman's suit has persevered in state court where, last month, a judge overruled all of the NCAA's preliminary objections.

Corman failed Tuesday, however, to intervene in the NCAA's federal action.

"Senator Corman's personal desire to actively participate in this litigation does not justify intervention as of right because it does not demonstrate the existence of a legal interest in this action that is significantly protectable," Kane wrote.

She later added: "As the NCAA points out, Sen. Corman has not asserted that the named defendants in this action are not capable of advancing the same arguments that he would raise in this litigation."

The existing defendants are capable of adequately representing the same interests Sen. Corman asserts, the ruling states.

"Because Sen. Corman's participation in this litigation will not add anything of value to the proceedings and would only serve to cause undue delay, permissive intervention is not warranted," Kane wrote.

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