A case in­volv­ing the Leg­is­la­ture

The Times-Tribune - - CAPITOL WATCH - — Win­ston Choi-schagrin, Paula Knudsen and Brad Bum­sted

As the #Me­too move­ment swept the na­tion, Penn­syl­va­nia faced its own scan­dal when two women ac­cused a sit­ting mem­ber of the house of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence or sex­ual as­sault.

In Fe­bru­ary, Rep. Tarah Toohil, R-luzerne county, and an un­named Repub­li­can con­sul­tant lodged a com­plaint with house GOP lead­er­ship against Rep. Nick Mic­carelli, R-delaware county.

Toohil ob­tained a fi­nal pro­tec­tion-from-abuse or­der against Mic­carelli in March. Al­though he agreed to the en­try of the re­strain­ing or­der, Mic­carelli did not ad­mit to any of the do­mes­tic-vi­o­lence al­le­ga­tions lev­eled against him by Toohil and has con­tin­ued to deny wrong do­ing in­volv­ing both women. house lead­er­ship and Gov. Tom Wolf called on him to re­sign.

Jen­nifer storm, Penn­syl­va­nia’s vic­tim advocate, called the house’s fail­ure to re­move Mic­carelli “un­con­scionable.” house Repub­li­can spokesman stephen Miskin said cau­cus lead­er­ship’s unan­i­mous call for res­ig­na­tion of one of its mem­bers was a highly un­usual — if not un­prece­dented — event.

It’s one of the rea­sons Mic­carelli did not run for re-elec­tion and will not be re­turn­ing to the cham­ber in Jan­uary, Miskin said.

Miskin also noted that Mic­carelli was stripped of his com­mit­tees. A house GOP lemal team found the women to be cred­i­ble and for­warded the al­le­ga­tions to Dauphin county Dis­trict At­tor­ney Fran chardo, who is in­ves­ti­gat­ing. storm was sharply crit­i­cal of the house’s han­dling of the mat­ter dur­ing an in­ter­view with The cau­cus. STORM: The house and the se­nate have dif­fer­ent pro­cesses [for re­spond­ing to ac­cu­sa­tions of sex­ual ha­rass­ment or mis­con­duct] and all that needs to be uni­form: It should be one process. If you were sex­u­ally ha­rassed or abused by a Demo­cratic sen­a­tor, it should look the same as if you were sex­u­ally ha­rassed or abused by a Repub­li­can sen­a­tor. same in the house. Right now you have four dif­fer­ent pro­cesses, and it’s a mess, and it’s con­fus­ing, and it cer­tainly does not serve any­one other than the ac­tual leg­is­la­tors them­selves.

It’s un­con­scionable that the house ba­si­cally made a find­ing of fact and then took their hands off it, and then Mave it to the dis­trict at­tor­ney. While it’s ap­pro­pri­ate to for­ward that in­for­ma­tion to the dis­trict at­tor­ney for pros­e­cu­tion, they should have held a hear­ing, they should have Mot­ten rid of the mem­ber who is at the fore­front.

THE CAU­CUS: An ex­pul­sion hear­ing?

STORM: Of course, there should have been an ex­pul­sion hear­ing. They called for it, and there was a house res­o­lu­tion that was drafted, but I be­lieve it never Mot cir­cu­lated.

THE CAU­CUS: What does it say to men and women who are sur­vivors of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence to know that there’s a law­maker who has an ac­tive PFA against him to be in that build­ing?

STORM: It’s di­min­ish­ing. It’s dis­re­spect­ful. It sends a hor­ri­ble mes­sage to the other lead­ers. Any­one run­ning or any­one cur­rently oc­cu­py­ing a seat now can say, well, that’s just a PFA, it just means I can’t sit next to her in cau­cus. I mean, it com­pletely di­min­ishes that survivor’s ex­pe­ri­ence.

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