Pa. sen­a­tor sues news­pa­per, re­porter, says they ‘col­luded’ with ac­cuser

The Morning Call - - LOCAL NEWS - By Steve Mar­roni

A Penn­syl­va­nia state sen­a­tor has sued a news­pa­per and one of its re­porters, say­ing they were “col­lud­ing” with an ac­cuser lodg­ing sex­ualmis­con­duct claims against him.

Cara Taylor al­leges that state Sen. Daylin Leach co­erced her to per­form oral sex on him in 1991 when she was 17 and he was a 30-year-old lawyer de­fend­ing her mother in a crim­i­nal case — al­le­ga­tions that he de­nies.

The Montgomery County Demo­crat is now su­ing The Philadel­phia Inquirer and re­porter An­gela Couloumbis, lev­el­ing one count of defama­tion and ac­cus­ing them of “col­lud­ing” with Taylor to cir­cu­late a pri­vate crim­i­nal com­plaint to dozens of law­mak­ers’ of­fices in the Capi­tol, de­tail­ing her claims of sex­ual mis­con­duct, The Le­gal In­tel­li­gencer re­ports.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, Leach says that de­spite in­con­sis­ten­cies and “im­pos­si­bil­i­ties” in Taylor’s claims, Couloumbis “pressed” her to present them to a gov­ern­men­tal au­thor­ity, and when they be­came pub­lic through an in­quiry by Se­nate Democrats, The Inquirer re­ported on the al­le­ga­tions.

The suit states, “The pur­pose of the col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween Taylor and Couloumbis was un­de­ni­ably to stage a gov­ern­men­tal forum the de­fen­dants could ex­ploit in or­der to pub­lish false ac­cu­sa­tions against Sen­a­tor Leach,” ac­cord­ing to The Le­gal In­tel­li­gencer.

The Inquirer re­ports Couloumbis, a veteran state Capi­tol re­porter, said of the law­suit, “The al­le­ga­tions are un­true,” and Gabriel Es­co­bar, editor and vice pres­i­dent of The Inquirer, said in a state­ment, “We com­pletely stand by our re­port­ing and will not com­ment any fur­ther on this pend­ing lit­i­ga­tion.”

In 2017, The Inquirer re­ported on other al­le­ga­tions from women on Leach’s leg­isla­tive staff and cam­paigns who ac­cused him of in­ap­pro­pri­ate touch­ing and sex­u­al­ized jokes.

But Se­nate Democrats re­leased a re­port Sept. 19 con­clud­ing there was no ev­i­dence Leach sex­u­ally ha­rassed any­one as a sen­a­tor, nor did he cre­ate a hos­tile work en­vi­ron­ment. It noted, how­ever, that some of his hu­mor was “un­ques­tion­ably sex­ual in na­ture.”

The re­port did not draw any con­clu­sions about Taylor’s al­le­ga­tions, say­ing they were nearly three decades old and should be the sub­ject of a court pro­ceed­ing.

They did, how­ever, note some in­con­sis­ten­cies in the time­line of events and past state­ments she made about the al­le­ga­tion.

“They are pre­pos­ter­ous,” Leach pre­vi­ously said. “I have never even so much as shaken hands with Cara Taylor.”


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