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Jerry Sandusky Pension: Convicted Child Molester Will Continue Collecting At Pennsylvania Taxpayer Expense

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Jerry Sandusky leaves court in handcuffs after his conviction.
Jerry Sandusky leaves court in handcuffs after his conviction.

Convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky likely won't be forfeiting his $59,000 annual pension, despite being found guilty of 45 charges surrounding child sex abuse.

"My immediate, authentic, organic reaction as a human being and a woman is, how awful," Tara Fields, Ph.D., M.F.T. told The Huffington Post.

But Sandusky's crimes and other crimes against children do not fall under Pennsylvania's Act 140, a 1978 state statute that enables prosecutors to request the forfeiture of a criminal's pension.

Sandusky, a former Penn State assistant football coach, was convicted Friday of 45 of 48 criminal counts related to the alleged assault of 10 boys over a 15-year period. The allegations led to the ouster of Penn State University's president, and the university's longtime football coach Joe Paterno, who died in January.

The 68-year-old could spend the rest of his life in prison.

"How terrible it is that this type of crime was never incorporated in the bill," said Fields, a licensed marriage and family therapist who has not treated Sandusky.

Act 140 is largely related to embezzlement, tampering with witnesses, forging documents and similar crimes, according to veteran attorney and legal analyst Anne Bremner.

"The type [of crimes] traditionally characterized under the umbrella of abuse of public office or public misconduct," said Bremner, who feels Pennsylvania lawmakers should immediately work to reform the law.

"Obviously, it was the intent of the legislature to disallow benefits to those who [abused their positions], but isn't it a far worse abuse of office to use your position [to be] a virtual pied piper of children -- [a] 'tickle monster' who groomed, fed, gifted and molested the children ..." Bremner asked.

If an amendment passed tomorrow, however, it likely won't affect Sandusky and he would continue collecting his state pension.

"There are times when the General Assembly has passed bills, there are efforts to apply retroactively, sometimes with success. But in the criminal setting, it is an uphill battle to apply conduct retroactively," Pennsylvania attorney and former Attorney General's office employee Jim Kutz told WHTM.

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Kutz said Penn State's hands also are tied because Sandusky's pension is a binding contract. "I don't think Penn State could do anything if they wanted to," he told WHTM.

And if that's not enough to anger residents of Pennsylvania, Bremner said, they should know Sandusky's pension is partially funded by taxpayers. "A $148K lump sum and over $50K a year for life or for [his wife] Dottie's life, if she survives him," Bremner told HuffPost.

"Maybe in 1978, the lawmakers didn't foresee this type of catastrophic, debilitating and horribly damaging scenario. Or then again, maybe they didn't want to talk about it."

While there may be little lawmakers can do to prevent Sandusky from collecting his pension, Fields said it should send a message that child sexual abuse should not be ignored.

"This is going to be a wake-up call for people who didn't care or didn't have an opinion when they find out that their money -- their tax dollars -- whether they like it or not, are being affected by these crimes," she said.

CLARIFICATION The headline of this article has been revised to indicate that Sandusky's pension is at the expense of Pennsylvania taxpayers.

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