BRASS MOVE TO STRIP SOME DUTIES, MOVE HIS DESK ON HOUSE FLOOR; SAY HE NAMED ACCUSER ON SOCIAL MEDIA
In this file photo, state Rep. Nick Miccarelli, R-162 of Ridley Park, speaks during a news conference in the Capitol Media Center.
Republican House leadership has asked the Committee on Committees to strip outgoing state Rep. Nick Miccarelli of all of his standing committee positions after finding that he retaliated against a woman who accused him of sexual assault.
Miccarelli, R-162 of Ridley Park, has vehemently denied the allegations, though a caucus investigation found the woman’s claims “credible” and forwarded her confidential complaint on to Dauphin County District Attorney Fran Chardo.
No criminal charges have been filed in the case.
“During that initial investigation, and several times afterwards, Representative Miccarelli was specifically informed of the terms of the caucus policy, which includes a prohibition against retaliation,” according to a memo sent to House members Thursday. “He subsequently was found to have violated that policy on more than one occasion.”
The woman, a political consultant who formerly dated Miccarelli, filed the confidential complaint with House leaders in early February. She claimed Miccarelli forced her to have sex shortly after she ended the relationship in 2014. The woman said she also believed he had drugged her one night while they were dating and engaged in “non-consensual sexual behavior” while she was unconscious. Miccarelli has vehemently denied both claims.
Shortly after the allegations were made public, Miccarelli named his accuser in a Facebook post, which the memo stated had remained in place for months. He also provided nude pictures of the woman to news outlets, which the House found served no “valid purpose.”
The woman filed a supplemental complaint earlier this month alleging Miccarelli had violated caucus rules on retaliation. A follow-up investigation was completed Thursday.
“The result of the follow-up investigation found Representative Miccarelli again violated the policy,” the memo said. “He has continued to maintain for months a statement on Facebook that was specifically identified by the House as a retaliation. Furthermore, he retaliated through the dissemination of sexually explicit emails and images without a valid purpose.”
Miccarelli spokesman Frank Keel said in a statement Thursday that the representative had turned over “the entirety” of electronic exchanges between Miccarelli and his accuser in order to “provide essential context on the scope, nature, intimacy and length of the consensual relationship between him and the anonymous complainant.”
Miccarelli’s attorney, Joe Podraza, told the Daily Times that the pictures were provided to demonstrate that the consultant was a “freer spirit” than was depicted in an initial Philadelphia Inquirer and Caucus story.
Charles Lyons, one of the attorneys representing the consultant, said there was never a dispute that there had been a consensual relationship between the two and that it had ended some time ago.
“The photos that were being distributed were approximately 11 months before the particular non-consensual offense and it’s irrelevant,” he said. “They are irrelevant. They serve no purpose other than to retaliate, and we fell like that is an attempt to chill our clients from continuing to proceed on this matter.”
During an interview with the Daily Times in March, the woman said she feared coming forward because Miccarelli has a history of “slut-shaming” as a way to discredit or silence his detractors. She noted her business was negatively impacted after her name was revealed and she had to live in a hotel out of fear of going home.
“There are many reasons why victims are reluctant or afraid to come forward and this kind of behavior is one of them, so we think it’s important that the House is doing this,” said Lyons.
Keel also said Miccarelli responded to initial media inquiries before the story broke “with a text that noted who the media identified as a complainant” and posted his subsequent response to those inquiries on his personal Facebook page. It was only afterward that publications reported that one of the complainants was requesting anonymity, according to Keel, and the post has since been removed.
Miccarelli told the Daily Times in March that he named the woman because, “In this country, you have a right to face your accuser.”
“If it came down, it came down in the last few days,” said Lyons. “We had checked periodically and it was still up there.”
Another complainant, state Rep. Tarah Toohil, R-116, of Butler Township, also accused
Miccarelli of physically abusing and threatening her during their relationship.
Toohil – who had also initially remained confidential – alleged in the complaint that Miccarelli kicked, pinched and hit her while they were dating, including at legislative events they attended together. He also allegedly held her against the wall of her Capitol office by the neck, pointed a gun at her in 2012 and at one point threatened to kill them both by crashing a vehicle while driving at speeds in excess of 100 mph. Miccarelli also vehemently denied her claims as well.
While Toohil came forward and secured a three-year permanent protection from abuse order against Miccarelli in which he admitted no wrongdoing, the consultant never publicly revealed her identity.
Miccarelli currently sits on the Appropriations, Consumer Affairs, Human Services and Liquor Control committees. Toohil also sits on the Human Services Committee.
The PFA allowed Miccarelli to return to Harrisburg, but he was to have no contact with Toohil. Though the two continued serving together on the Human Services Committee, Toohil was assigned a bodyguard who accompanied her to meetings and the House floor, where she sat about 35 feet from Miccarelli. Thursday’s memo indicated his seat would be moved.
Republican House leadership and several Democrats, including Gov. Tom Wolf, have called on Miccarelli to resign his seat, but no official action has taken place to force him out. No Republicans or Democrats have offered a resolution to have him expelled.
Miccarelli, 35, an Iraq war veteran and five-term incumbent, announced in March that he would not seek re-election, but would not step down from office for the remainder of his term.
By serving until Nov. 30, Miccarelli will hit a 10-year mark of legislative service that would make him and his family eligible to receive lifetime taxpayer-funded health care benefits, as well as a pension from the State Employees’ Retirement System.
Because Miccarelli withdrew after a deadline for candidates to file nominating petitions in the May Primary Election, Republicans in the 162nd District were forced to mount a write-in campaign for former Sheriff Mary Hopper. Approximately 3,100 write-in votes were tallied Tuesday, though a break-out of names is not yet available.
House Republican spokesman Steve Miskin said the leadership meanwhile stands by its calls for Miccarelli to resign, but he technically works for the people who elected him, not the House itself.
In order for any House action to take place, Miskin said, there would need to be a resolution offered and a two-thirds majority of representatives would need to vote in favor. No such motion has yet emerged.
The memo issued Thursday states that the House Committee on Committees is scheduled to issue a report next week to take action consistent with the General Operating Rules of the House of Representatives, however.
“Per House Rule 43, it is the committee’s responsibility ‘to recommend to the House the names of members who are to serve on the standing committees of the House,’” according to the memo. “The Republican Caucus of the House of Representatives does not tolerate retaliation against any individual who reports or makes a complaint about harassment or improper conduct, or who assists in an investigation of harassment.”
State Rep. Nick Miccarelli, R-162 of Ridley Park, talks about the sex abuse complaints filed against him by two women in this file photo. Miccarelli vehemently denies the claims.
State Rep. Tarah Toohil, R-116 of Luzerne County, is one of two women who filed complaints against Delco state Rep. Nick Miccarelli.