Former state Rep. Rick Saccone has resigned from St. Vincent College (SVC) as an adjunct professor following the school’s investigation into his participation at Wednesday’s pro-Trump demonstration in Washington D.C., which escalated into an invasion of the Capitol building.
During the protest, Saccone wrote a message on Facebook: “We are storming the Capitol. Our vanguard has broken through the barricades. We will save this nation. Are you with me?” The post has since been deleted.
SVC confirmed Saccone’s resignation on Thursday.
After viewing a video showing Saccone’s participation in Wednesday’s demonstration, the college’s president, the Rev. Paul R. Taylor, OSB, wrote in a statement released Thursday afternoon, “Concerned that (Saccone’s) actions did not and do not reflect our mission, we immediately commenced an internal investigation of the matter.
“As a result, the individual has submitted and we have accepted his letter of resignation, effective immediately.”
Taylor said Saccone will no longer be associated with SVC in “any capacity.” He added that SVC teaches “the importance of the sanctity of human life, the rule of law, civil discourse, free speech and civil engagement, and we strongly condemn the extreme actions of violence and destruction that were on display at our nation’s capital.
“We believe that all individuals have the right to an opinion, but when beliefs and opinions devolve into illegal and violent activities, there will be no tolerance.”
In the nation’s capital on Wednesday, a violent mob loyal to President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol causing lawmakers to go into hiding, in an attempt to keep members of Congress from certifying Democrat Joe Biden as president-elect.
Saccone, 62, is from Elizabeth and represented the 39th District in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives from 2011 to 2019. He ran unsuccessfully as a Republican against Sen. Connor Lamb in a 2018 special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District.
Saccone taught politics at SVC for over 20 years, including courses on international relations and global terrorism, according to his LinkedIn page. He received a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in International Relations and Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh.
His participation in Wednesday’s demonstration drew criticism from SVC alumni and current students, prompting a change.org petition advocating for the “Termination of Rick Saccone from Saint Vincent College,” which received more than 1,100 signatures as of early Friday morning.
Following questions on social media of Saccone’s status as an SVC faculty member, the college on Wednesday tweeted, “We have been made aware of a video posted today from Washington, D.C., by an individual who has, on occasion, served as an adjunct faculty member at Saint Vincent College. In matters of opinion, faculty have the right to express their beliefs as long as they do so responsibly and do not purport to be speaking on behalf of the College.”
The college, however, said it does not “condone or tolerate acts that are considered violent or illegal.”
“Any allegation that an employee has engaged in illegal or violent activity will result in a thorough investigation and appropriate actions will be taken thereafter,” the tweet read.
The college’s investigation led to Saccone’s resignation Thursday.
Saccone could not be reached for comment, but he wrote in a Facebook post on Wednesday that he did nothing wrong.
“I see some people are twisting the peaceful protest into something else. Everyone from our group was involved in peaceful, First Amendment assembly,” he wrote. “It was part of the metaphor to storm the castle so to speak.
“People that I heard breached some barricades to reach the steps to wave flags. Some carried a huge American flag up the steps which drew a loud roar of approval from the crowd,” he added. “No one I (know) of intended or condones any violence unlike those on the left. Did not see any violence but did see some smoke what some said was tear gas being sprayed at people. I cannot imagine anyone being shot for a trespass. The punishment for trespass is not death.”
Saccone offered a statement to The Review, SVC’s student-run newspaper, after his departure, writing that he has fond memories of the college.
“I spent 21 wonderful years at SVC. I taught hundreds of great students, created the Hall for our Founding and International Affairs,” he wrote. “Led students on dozens of field trips around the world. My wife has cooked for many students. I have brought many high level speakers including ambassadors and government officials to speak at the college.
“I have enjoyed working with the super faculty and staff and will miss everyone very much. Yong (Saccone, his wife) and I wish God’s blessings on you all in the future. I leave with decades of great memories and Christlike fondness.”