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Convicted Oregon Teachers Collect $10.8 Million Annual Pensions at Taxpayer Expense

Oregon teachers who sexually abuse students or commit other felonies still receive sizeable pensions, at a cost to taxpayers of at least $10.8 million annually, according to Freedom Foundation Oregon, a "think and action tank promoting individual liberty, free enterprise and limited, accountable government."

In 1998, teacher Andrew Lockwood, then 44, pled guilty to molesting two young boys in his home for two-and-a-half years. He was sentenced to three years in prison, but kept his $69,945 annual pension.

In 2000, teacher Tom Lees, then 53, was sentenced to six years in prison for reaching up the skirt of a 13-year-old female student and grabbing her buttocks. He was also convicted of sexual abuse for touching a 14-year-old girl on the thigh. He denied the latter charge, but admitted that he was infatuated with the girl and wanted to marry her. Yet, he continues to collect his $22,342 annual pension.

They are far from alone. Nearly 300 former teachers continue to collect pensions of upwards of $100,000, despite having been convicted of felonies, according to a Freedom Foundation study.

A stunning 25 cases involved child molestation, where a teacher committed sexual assault, harassment, or made inappropriate comments to students or fellow employees, Freedom Foundation found. Yet, they continued to collect an average gross pension of $52,000, annually.

Another six teachers used the internet to watch sexually explicit material online. However, they continue to collect an average annual pension of $46,258. Eleven teachers who committed assault still earned average gross pensions of $28,850 annually.

"Lesser violations," including gross neglect of duty and gross unfitness, were documented in more than 30 cases, according to Freedom Foundation. Those teachers continued to collect an average gross pension of $30,500, annually.

Crimes involving kidnapping, physical abuse, and pornography did not prevent teachers from collecting their sizeable pensions, according to Freedom Foundation. This is because Oregon is one of 25 states that does not have pension forfeiture laws, so it is not legal to revoke a convicted teacher's pension, even when convicted of a job-related offense. As a result, the 300 known convicted Oregon teachers cost taxpayers an estimated $10.8 million annually, according to Freedom Foundation.

Source: The Oregonian, OregonLive