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LNP - When the state House needs to protect one of its own from you, Rep. Miccarelli, it's time for you to resign

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Republican state Rep. Tarah Toohil, of Luzerne County, obtained a temporary protection from abuse order against fellow Republican Rep. Nick Miccarelli, of Delaware County, on Friday. Toohil and another woman, a political consultant whose name has not been made public, filed a confidential complaint on Feb. 8 to House lawyers alleging that Miccarelli had physically or sexually assaulted them (the two women dated Miccarelli at different times between 2012 and 2014). That complaint first was reported by The Caucus — an LNP Media Group watchdog publication — and The Philadelphia Inquirer. As their report in today’s LNP states, Toohil was interviewed for more than two hours Monday by investigators from the Capitol Police and the Dauphin County district attorney’s office. In Toohil’s petition for the protection order, she alleges Miccarelli harmed and threatened to kill her in the past, and has harassed and stalked her. The restraining order states that Miccarelli shall be “evicted and excluded” from any location at which Toohil works or lives. Because of the order, security was tightened at the state Capitol Monday, as House Republicans returned to session.

Nick Miccarelli needs to resign from the House. Immediately.

The women alleging harm by him want him to resign. So, too, do Gov. Tom Wolf and House Democrats.

And most seriously for him, Republican state House leaders also want him to resign.

In fact, the feelings of those GOP leaders couldn’t be clearer. Unfortunately, Miccarelli doesn’t seem to be a man who respects the views and feelings of others.

Earlier this month, he was stripped of his security privileges, and his parking spot was moved from a basement garage to outside the Capitol building. Sources tell The Caucus and the Inquirer that Miccarelli now must enter through staffed security stations at doors used by the general public.

The GOP-led House took those measures for a reason.

Miccarelli has vehemently denied the allegations against him. His spokesman, Frank Keel, claims the allegations and Toohil’s restraining order are part of a “well-orchestrated smear campaign.”

Let’s quickly review the possibility that this is a smear campaign.

The unnamed political consultant — who works with state Republicans — alleges that when she tried to end her relationship with Miccarelli in late 2014, he forced her to have sex with him. Forcing someone to have sex is assault. And false allegations of sexual assault are exceedingly rare (that’s one reason they tend to get a lot of publicity — because they’re so uncommon).

Moreover, why would a Luzerne County Republican seek a restraining order against a member of her own party from Delaware County?

It makes no sense at all.

It is incredibly difficult for women to report abuse and assault — primarily because they fear not being believed. Issuing a workplace complaint against a colleague and then seeking a protection from abuse order against him isn’t something a woman would do unless she has a serious reason for doing it. And it must have been especially difficult for a female politician, whom we’re sure would much rather be in the public eye because of her policy initiatives than for her abuse complaints against a man she used to date.

We saw one tweet suggesting that the complainants against Miccarelli are “bitter old” girlfriends, who decided to “MeToo” him because they’re facing lonely futures. That is insane. No woman would subject herself to this kind of agonizing public scrutiny for such a ridiculous reason.

On the contrary, fear of retaliation holds women back from complaining about abuse and assault. Women are far more likely to stay silent than to report the harm that’s been done to them.

And harm that occurs within a relationship can be even more difficult to disclose because it’s too often minimized or dismissed by others.

“There were terrible moments that were nonconsensual at the hands of Rep. Miccarelli,” Toohil said in a statement Friday to the Inquirer and The Caucus. “And if I — as a lawyer and a lawmaker — could be this afraid of that individual, then I can only imagine how the other victims feel, which is why I am coming out publicly.”

We laud Toohil and the political consultant for lodging their complaint against Miccarelli. And we think it was brave of Toohil to seek a protection from abuse order.

In her petition, she wrote that in 2011 and 2012, Miccarelli “hit, pinched, kicked me, verbally abused me and blackmailed me with photographs” that she said he released after she ended their relationship. In 2012, Miccarelli pointed a gun at her head and drove his car at high speed, she wrote, “threatening to kill us both.” She alleged that he is obsessed “with violence and firearms.”

Miccarelli has been stalking and staring at her, and “finding ways to physically intimidate” her on the House floor, Toohil wrote, noting that she now fears “for my safety at work.”

At a hearing set for Thursday, Miccarelli will get a chance to defend himself against the order. That’s his right.

It will be the duty of the judge to decide whether to extend the protection order. We hope he makes the right call.

In the meantime, Capitol security officers now face the unprecedented task of having to defend one lawmaker from another.

“House security with Capitol Police are working to ensure the safety of members and staff on the floor, and the public, members and staff in the Capitol building,” said Stephen Miskin, a spokesman for the House Republicans.

We appreciate these efforts.

Miccarelli didn’t go to the Capitol on Monday but was expected to be in his district office, according to a statement issued Saturday by his spokesman.

“He will not willingly submit to the ‘Jerry Springer’ environment his accusers wish to create in Harrisburg,” Keel said in the statement.

That makes about as much sense as the bitter-old-girlfriends tweet.

This isn’t a game. This isn’t reality television or an inane talk show. And it isn’t a political smear campaign.

Miccarelli’s complainants didn’t seek notoriety. They felt threatened and harmed to the point where they felt it was necessary to file a complaint against the man who allegedly threatened and harmed them.

We’re grateful for their courage, and to the leaders in state government who are taking their concerns seriously.


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