Pittsburgh judge addresses Sandusky prank filings

'Patently frivolous actions' may violate law

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A judge in Pittsburgh is the latest member of the federal judiciary to weigh in on prank court filings alleging abuse by Jerry Sandusky.

Someone using the name "Jonathan Harris" and claiming to be the nephew of former Pittsburgh Steeler Franco Harris filed a request Thursday for a restraining order against Mr. Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant football coach convicted last week of molesting boys.

The motion -- filed without an attorney and using the return address of Mr. Sandusky's charity, The Second Mile -- claimed Mr. Sandusky molested the plaintiff at a 1999 Pittsburgh Pirates game.

The filing is similar to others filed in federal courts during the past two weeks in Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and Wisconsin under such names as Jonathan Bollinger, Tom N. Jerry, Jonathan Paterno and Gino Romano.

All of the filings included bogus return addresses and are believed to be the work of the same person.

In filing the restraining order motions, the plaintiff also has filed "In Forma Pauperis" requests, asking for the waiving of the usual fees because of indigence. Those requests require a sworn financial affidavit, and lying on that form is illegal.

Several judges in other districts dismissed the motions as frivolous, and one reminded the perpetrator that he could face sanctions for filing bogus claims.

U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer on Thursday did the same with the filing here and threatened that the perpetrator could be in trouble with the law.

Federal courts "resolve serious disputes between litigants," she wrote, "and individuals who file such patently frivolous actions may be subject to sanctions by the court and potential prosecutions.

"As such, this matter will be referred to the appropriate authorities for further investigation."

Federal prosecutors are examining the issue. One potential charge is perjury.

state

Torsten Ove: tove@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1510. First Published June 29, 2012 12:00 AM


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