There is outrage in Pennsylvania at the news that Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant football coach who was recently convicted of sexual abuse of minors, is still entitled to receive his public pension. While the State Employees’ Retirement system does regulate for forfeiture of pension by public officials and retirees for crimes that breach the duty of faithful and honest public service, the list of crimes that trigger forfeiture does not include sex crimes. So Sandusky, convicted of 45 counts of child sexual abuse, will collect $58,898 each year according to Vignesh Ramachandran, writing for msnbc.com.
“I think it is nauseating that a convicted pedophile like Sandusky will be collecting a pension while sitting behind bars,” Pennsylvania Rep. Brendan Boyle said in a statement. “He certainly doesn’t deserve to continue to enjoy the benefit of a taxpayer-funded pension.”
When Sandusky dies, his wife will be eligible for half of the annual payout. Boyle introduced a bill in 2011 to try to expand the list of crimes by public workers that would see them forfeit their pensions and smooth out some inconsistencies in the system. For example, while Sandusky gets to keep his pension, former Penn State Vice President Gary Schultz is likely to lose his after being accused of perjury.
Emails from 2001 show that Shultz, former athletic director Tim Curley and former Penn State president Graham Spanier were all aware of Sandusky’s problem and appear complicit in a cover-up to avoid the involvement of authorities.
University officials “knew they had a problem with Sandusky after a 2001 shower incident, but apparently first decided to handle it using a ‘humane’ approach before contacting outside authorities whose job it is to investigate suspected abuse,” CNN reports.
Schultz and Curley have both pleaded not guilty to charges of perjury and failing to report suspected child abuse.
The Sandusky trial, which ended in his conviction on June 22, has both fascinated and disgusted the public. Its high profile nature, however, could bring welcome public focus to those trying to reform pension forfeiture rules which are likely to see Schultz lose his pension and Sandusky keep his.
Nicholas Maiale, chairman of the SERS board, told PennLive.com that he will get a legal review of the board’s options in this case. “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, though he is not optimistic about a forfeiture.