Former Pennsylvania Lawmaker Admits He Sexually Assaulted His 103-Year-Old Mother-In-Law

William Spingler, a former Pennsylvania commissioner, was convicted of a sex crime after he admitted to groping his 103-year-old mother-in-law’s breasts.

Yup. You read that right.


Spingler, who was once the Radnor Township Commissioner, admitted to two counts of assault, though he was charged with three. His mother-in-law, who now lives in a nursing home, was staying in his home previously. She has dementia. Spangler was married to her now-deceased daughter. “I thought for shock value, you know, I could get her to say something, let her know I was there,” Spingler told a jury. “It was the dumbest thing I ever did, but it did get her attention and let her know I was there.”

Spingler told the jury that he would spend time with his mother-in-law in the nursing home, but she would often forget who he was. She had, however, clearly outlined her lack of consent—and told Spingler “no” on more than one occasion—but he continued. He told the jury he was just trying “to make her feel good about herself” and “get her going.” Last Thursday, he told the jury that fondling her breast “was just something I shouldn’t have done,” as if trying to play it off as no big deal.

The 75-year-old perpetrator has now been released on a $10,000 bail and will be heading to court again this September, and he is also under consideration by the Sexual Offenders Assessment Board to determine his status of a sexually violent offender.

The former lawmaker was arrested in December of 2016 after three assaults took place within the span of just one month. When police chief William Colarulo testified to the jury, he explained that when he showed up at the resident dining hall in the nursing home to make the arrest, Spingler already knew why he was there.

Sexual assault knows no age limits, and Spingler’s case is the perfect examples of rape culture. Spingler took advantage of his mother-in-law. His behavior wasn’t about sexual desire—it was about asserting his own dominance and exploiting her relative powerlessness.


Joelle Rosenberg is an Editorial Intern at Ms. and a student at Santa Monica College studying Sociology and Women's studies. She has worked as a volunteer for Planned Parenthood and dedicated much time and effort into raising awareness about rape culture and sexual assault in colleges around the United Sates. She enjoys outdoor activities such as backpacking, hiking and rock climbing, as well as exploring L.A.'s food scene and spending time with her cats. You can find her on Facebook or Instagram.