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Pa. Senate security chief resigns after harassment complaints

The head of security for the Pennsylvania Senate resigned following allegations of workplace harassment by two female subordinates that included him texting an inappropriate photograph.

Pictured above is Pennsylvania’s State Capitol, where lawmakers and others are under scrutiny for allegations of sexual harassment.
Pictured above is Pennsylvania’s State Capitol, where lawmakers and others are under scrutiny for allegations of sexual harassment.Read moreAP Photo

HARRISBURG — The longtime chief of security for the Pennsylvania Senate has resigned after he was accused of harassing two female subordinates, allegedly sending inappropriate text messages, including at least one with a sexually graphic photo, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Justin Ferrante stepped down Friday amid an ongoing investigation into the complaints, Senate officials confirmed Tuesday.

His departure came as the Inquirer and Daily News and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette had been asking Senate employees questions about the allegations.

Ferrante declined to comment Tuesday. A resident of York County, he had worked for the Office of Senate Security since 1999, becoming director in 2004, according to a resumé on LinkedIn. His salary was $78,542, state records show.

The Pennsylvania Capitol, like many statehouses across the nation, is facing a rising tide of workplace misconduct and sexual-harassment claims. State Sen. Daylin Leach (D., Montgomery) last month stepped back from his bid for Congress after misconduct allegations emerged. And Rep. Thomas Caltagirone (D., Berks) came under fire after reports that House Democrats secretly paid nearly $250,000 to settle a sexual-harassment claim against him.

The Senate's security office, which consists of about 15 people, works to ensure that the chamber's sessions occur safely and without interruption. It reports to the Senate's secretary and parliamentarian, Megan Martin, who is appointed by the chamber's leadership, in this case Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R., Jefferson). Martin did not respond Tuesday to messages left in her office.

The Senate in recent months hired the law firm of McNees Wallace & Nurick to investigate complaints by two women about Ferrante's behavior, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss a sensitive personnel issue.

According to the sources, one complaint came from Ferrante's deputy, Sue Salov, who told the law firm that he texted her inappropriate graphics and cartoons, as well as a picture of male genitalia.

He also allegedly once asked her, via text message, whether she wanted to view his genitalia to improve her mood, and during another phone call asked if one of her friends would show him her breasts, the sources said.

Salov declined to comment.

Keah Tingler, a longtime Senate security receptionist, told the law firm that Ferrante had on multiple occasions sent her photos of feces after visiting the bathroom during work hours, the sources said. When he returned to the office, he would sometimes throw a wet paper towel at her, the sources said.

He also asked her whether she would like to touch his testicles as he would prepare his appearance for the Senate's session, the sources said. Tingler also alleged he would sometimes ask her to roll on the floor.

Tingler declined to comment.