News

Pa. Senate paying ex-security chief's legal bills in harassment lawsuits

Written by The Associated Press | Feb 15, 2019 11:07 AM
PA_capitol25.jpg

The state Capitol building in Harrisburg. (Tom Downing/WITF)

This story has been updated.

(Harrisburg) -- Republicans in Pennsylvania's Senate have been paying the legal bills of the chamber's ex-security chief in lawsuits by two women accusing him of harassing them while on the job as Senate security guards.

Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati's office has approved at least $23,355 to cover the legal bills of former security director Justin Ferrante, according to a report published by The Philadelphia Inquirer, LNP and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

An aide to Scarnati said Senate officials decided to cover Ferrante's bills in part because the Senate is also named as a defendant and that some allegations in the lawsuits "are likely not accurate."

"The senator believes that there needs to be due process afforded to employees and members," the aide, Drew Crompton, wrote in an email Friday.

There are other similar cases, including one pending in federal court, where the same decision to pay legal bills was made by Democrats, Crompton wrote.

In a recent court filing, Ferrante denied all allegations of wrongdoing or misconduct. Ferrante resigned in late 2017 amid allegations of harassment, including texting the women photos of genitals and feces.

Jennifer Storm, the state's victim advocate, said covering Ferrante's legal bills is a "slap in the face of these two women."

"I'm a little hard-pressed to understand where the Senate feels obligated to cover legal bills of a former employee when sexual harassment is not part of his official duties," Storm said.

The Senate is not paying lawyers' fees for the two women who are suing.

Sue Salov, the assistant security director, still works for the Senate, and said in her lawsuit that the Senate tolerated and perpetuated a culture that allowed for harassment and discrimination. Keah Tingler retired on disability last fall after she said she suffered a nervous breakdown.

An earlier version of this story appears below.

(Harrisburg) -- Republicans in Pennsylvania's Senate have been paying the legal bills of the chamber's ex-security chief in lawsuits by two women accusing him of harassing them while on the job as Senate security guards.

Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati's office has approved at least $23,355 to cover the legal bills of former security director Justin Ferrante, according to a report published by The Philadelphia Inquirer, LNP and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

An aide to Scarnati says Senate officials decided to cover Ferrante's bills in part because the Senate is also named as a defendant and that some allegations in the lawsuits "are likely not accurate."

Ferrante has denied all allegations of wrongdoing or misconduct. Ferrante resigned in late 2017 amid allegations including texting the women photos of genitals and feces.

Published in News

Tagged under , , , ,

back to top