A J.P. McCaskey High School music teacher accused of pursuing a sexual relationship with a former student has been placed on unpaid leave, School District of Lancaster’s solicitor announced Tuesday.
The 30-year employee also agreed to be dismissed from the district if he pleads guilty to or is convicted of “any crime that precludes him from serving as a teacher under Pennsylvania law, and that includes nearly all the crimes with which he has been charged,” solicitor Howard Kelin said.
Timothy Sterner, 52, of East Hempfield Township, was charged on Aug. 5 with sexual exploitation of a minor, attempted institutional exploitation of a minor along with a slew of related felony and misdemeanor offenses.
The school district placed Sterner on administrative leave when it was notified of the charges the same day. He was switched to unpaid leave on Monday, the first teacher work day of the 2019-20 school year.
Sterner technically has not been paid for the period between Aug. 5 and Monday, according to school district spokesman Adam Aurand.
Sterner was paid a salary of $75,606, Aurand told LNP earlier this month.
“Any payment over the summer would have been for his work performed previously during the 2018-19 school year,” he said.
Sterner’s public pension hangs on whether he is convicted of or pleads guilty to any of his felony charges, according to a law signed by Gov. Tom Wolf this year.
The law cuts off a public employee’s pension benefits if he commits a job-related felony or one punishable by more than five years in prison.
Kelin said the district’s arrangement with Sterner “avoids the need for the school district to incur time and expense at this point, yet still protects the district in the event dismissal proceedings become necessary.”
The district, he added, could still let Sterner go if he doesn’t plead guilty or isn’t convicted.
Sterner, who is accused of grooming a former student for a sexual relationship by showering him with gifts, cash and free trips, was released from Lancaster County Prison on Aug. 16 on $50,000 unsecured bail.
A judge has forbidden Sterner of traveling outside the county or coming into contact with minors. Sterner also must make weekly visits to bail administration.