Michael Binns, Sr.

Michael Binns Sr., the former choir director sentenced to 45 years in prison last week for sexually assaulting two of his former students, is entitled to his teacher retirement benefits despite the felony conviction.

“For a school employee committing a sex crime, there is nothing in the law that provides forfeiture,” said George Hopkins, executive director of the Arkansas Teacher Retirement System.

“If there was an attempt to create such a law, it would probably be preempted by anti-discrimination provisions in federal the federal law,” he added.

Binns, 57, retired from the Monticello School District last May following a 35-year teaching career.

Fourteen months later, a Drew County jury found found the former music teacher guilty of two counts of second-degree sexual assault and one count of introducing a controlled substance, marijuana, into the body of another person. He was sentenced to 45 years in prison — two 20 year sentences for the two sexual assault convictions and five year sentence for giving one of the two boys marijuana.

He was also fined $10,000.

If and when the $10,000 fine is collected, it will go into Drew County’s general fund.

While Binns apparently will receive his full retirement benefits while in prison, 10th Judicial District Prosecutor Thomas Deen said he believes certain types of retirement can be garnished, but he isn’t sure about teacher retirement.

He said there are also laws that allow counties to recover from the prisoner the cost of his upkeep while in jail.