Disgraced former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky could continue receiving a $59,000 per year pension in prison, despite being convicted of sexually assaulting ten children.
Pennsylvania pension-forfeiture laws target officials convicted of public corruption. Sandusky’s offenses, while grievous, are not included in the current statute.
A bill that would include crimes like Sandusky’s is currently stalled in the Pennsylvania State Senate. It would need to be passed and signed quickly, before the current session ends, in order to apply to Sandusky.
The bill was introduced in October of 2011, before Sandusky was indicted. Cameron Kline, a spokesperson for Penn. State Sen. Larry Farnese, D-Philadelphia, said that it would be a “tall order” to pass the bill before the session ends.
“It’s something we think would be very appropriate for a case such as this,” Kline told ABC News. “Now that it’s over, we’re a little concerned, confused and angry it’s still stuck there. Apparently it’s not a priority so the legislation still stays in committee.”
Pennsylvania law currently withholds pension payments for officials convicted of crimes like extortion, bribery and perjury, but the statute does not apply to officials convicted of sexual misconduct.
Nicholas Maiale, chair of the Pennsylvania State Employees Retirement System board, told the Harrisburg Patriot-News that the board would explore options to keep from paying Sandusky.
“I am a Penn Stater and I am a citizen of Pennsylvania, and we are all morally outraged about this case and what happened to those kids,” he said. He conceded that it was unlikely that SERS could withhold the pension, however.
“The idea that Sandusky could be sitting behind bars for the rest of his life but still collect a taxpayer-funded pension is, to me, stomach-churning,” said Rep. Brendan Boyle, D-Philadelphia, to the Patriot-News.
While it will be difficult to get a bill through before the end of session, Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler County, who chairs the House State Government Committee, told the Patriot-News that he would hold hearings on the issue over the summer, and would look at ways a bill could be set up to apply retroactively to Sandusky.
While Sandusky may receive a pension, two people related to the case might not. Former Penn State Vice President Gary Schultz and Athletic Director Tim Curley have both been charged with perjury related to the case. If convicted, both would lose their pensions under current law.
Image Credit: Centre County Correctional Facility