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Armato, Murphy & Jones Legislation Requiring Public Officer or Employee to Forfeit Pension upon Sexual Assault Conviction Clears Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats John Armato, Carol Murphy, and Patricia Egan Jones requiring a person who holds or has held any public office to forfeit their position upon conviction of harassment, sexual conduct, lewdness, or sexual assault when the offense involves or touches upon a public office or employment cleared the Assembly State and Local Government Committee on Thursday.

The bill (A-3766) specifies that a person must forfeit their pension or retirement benefits if they are convicted of any of the above allegations when the offense is related directly to the person’s performance in, or circumstances flowing from, the specific public office or employment held by said person.

“New Jersey citizens should feel comfortable that the people they choose to represent them are honest and decent,” said Armato (D-Atlantic). “State employees and elected officials are entrusted with the responsibility of being advocates in their communities. Those who have betrayed the taxpayers’ trust should not continue to benefit.”

Under the current law, a person who holds or has held any public office, position, or employment is required to forfeit all of the person’s pension or retirement benefits upon convictions of certain enumerated crimes involving or touching such office, position, or employment.

“This piece of legislation could not come at a more appropriate time,” said Murphy (D-Burlington). “With campaigns such as the #MeToo Movement being so prominent, it is important that we protect our constituents as well as reassure them that their voices are being heard, and those representing their voices reflect the same values they embody.”

The sponsors noted that this bill would add the crimes of harassment, sexual contact, lewdness, and sexual assault to the list of crimes.

“It has been inspiring to see how victims of harassment and sexual assault have created an open dialogue and provoked change in our country to put an end to this disgusting matter,” said Jones (D-Camden/Gloucester). “This bill will help to show our citizens that, in New Jersey, we are taking action.”