State Rep. Eugene DePasquale said he is already getting bipartisan support for his legislation proposal that would eliminate state pensions from public officials and employees convicted of committing sexual offenses against minors.
DePasquale, D-York City, said he decided to develop the legislation to stop state pension payments from being made to Jerry Sandusky, Penn State football's former defensive coordinator, who was found guilty last month on 45 of 48 counts related to the molestation of 10 boys.
"The public was astounded to learn that (Sandusky) would continue to receive his $58,898 state pension simply because the crimes he committed didn't disqualify him from doing so," DePasquale said. "This bill is simple. It's to ensure that doesn't continue in the future."
DePasquale said he plans to introduce his legislation within the next two weeks and hopes to get action on it this fall. Democratic and Republican legislators are signing on to co-sponsor the bill, he said. Under DePasquale's proposal, any public official or public employee who is convicted or pleads guilty or no defense to any offense that requires registration pursuant to Megan's Law would lose all rights to pension benefits.
The bill also would amend the Public Employee Pension Forfeiture Act to require any public official or employee who is convicted or pleads guilty or no contest to sexual abuse crimes committed against minors to make full restitution to the public schools where they are employed to restore the money the school lost as a result of the criminal offense.
In Sandusky's case, DePasquale said he believes that if Penn State is held accountable for Sandusky's crimes, then Sandusky should reimburse the school for using its facilities to commit his offenses.
DePasquale said the most important language in the bill is a retroactivity clause that would apply the changes to the Public Employee Pension Forfeiture Act starting June 1, 2012.
He said he believes the act has provisions that would constitutionally allow for the retroactivity clause. He also said that he wants to "put heat" on the state pension board to do everything it lawfully can to prevent Sandusky from getting a pension.
"I feel that Mr. Sandusky should not be rewarded with a public pension, paid for by the good citizens of this Commonwealth, after committing such heinous crimes," DePasquale said.
-Reach Eyana Adah McMillan at firstname.lastname@example.org.