Sexual assault allegations against lawmaker point to flaws in system, critics say

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — It has been nearly a month since House Republican leaders were told by two women who work at the Capitol that they’d been sexually assaulted by Rep. Nick Miccarelli (R-Delaware).

Miccarelli strongly denies the allegations and maintains his innocence.

House GOP leadership investigated and found enough evidence that it took the rare step of publicly calling for Miccarelli’s resignation. We’re told caucus leadership alerted Capitol Police but as of Monday afternoon still had not shared information with the Dauphin County district attorney’s office.

“We’re talking about allegations of rape and sexual assault,” said Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky (D-Delaware). “Those are criminal allegations. We need further investigation.”

Late Monday afternoon, after ABC27 inquired about the status of the investigation, House GOP attorneys contacted the district attorney’s office to say they would soon be turning things over.

“First and foremost, if someone is a victim of sexual assault, I would hope they would be going to the police and reporting it as a crime because that is exactly what it is,” said Rep. Sheryl Delozier (R-Cumberland).

But in this case, victims went to the alleged abuser’s bosses, which may reveal a flaw in the system.

It’s one Capitol dome from the outside, but inside there are several silos: House GOP, House Democrats, Senate, Governor’s office. All four have different procedures and policies for reporting harassment or assault and information is likely not being shared.

“You could have a serial perpetrator in this building and no one is connecting the dots,” Braneky said. “No one is speaking out across the board to keep victims and survivors safe.”

Many lawmakers are calling for an independent investigator who fields and follows up on allegations.

“It’s clear we need one independent system in the state capitol for people to report sexual harassment complaints and know they will be taken seriously,” said Rep. Patty Kim (D-Dauphin).

Delozier is a former rape counselor and victims’ advocate. She thinks her caucus leadership is investigating appropriately but also sees those silos and what they represent.

“Many times in state government, as you are well aware, we are reactive, unfortunately. So having this situation come forward also opens up and recognizes where there are gaps, and where we do need to change, and where do we need to have a better culture,” Delozier said.

Braneky is much more forceful in her assessment and call for a cultural change.

“To every person in this Capitol who is a perpetrator, I say this: times up,” she said. “It’s time to end the culture of fear and harrassment that has gone on for way too long. We say enough.”

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