HARRISBURG – The Dauphin County District Attorney’s Office has empaneled a grand jury to investigate allegations that a former Pennsylvania House member sexually assaulted a woman in his Harrisburg townhouse while she was incapacitated, according to two sources familiar with the matter.
District Attorney Fran Chardo has been investigating the allegations against former State Rep. Brian Ellis since the start of the year. This month, his office placed the case before a grand jury, which has subpoenaed several witnesses to testify and could wrap up its work as early as next month, the sources said.
In a brief interview, Chardo said he could not comment, including on why he decided to place the matter before a grand jury.
Ellis, 50, a Butler County Republican, has denied the allegations. Neither he nor his lawyers would comment.
In the complaint, the woman said that before the alleged assault in October 2015, she had repeatedly rebuffed sexual advances from Ellis.
The woman said that the night of the alleged incident she was out with a friend in downtown Harrisburg at a restaurant/bar, where she had fewer than two drinks.
“I have scant memories of the next 10 hours, and was in a state of blackout,” she wrote in the complaint, a copy of which was reviewed by the newspapers. “I woke up in pain, injured and naked, the next morning in the bed of Rep. Brian Ellis.”
When she confronted Ellis, she contends he told her: “We had sex.”
She said she did not file a report then out of confusion and shame. However, she did go to the hospital the next day, she said, and at some point was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
The woman in her complaint asked the House to “hold Ellis accountable for his heinous actions.”
Ellis is the second Republican House member to be investigated by Chardo’s office on assault allegations.
Last year, two women filed a complaint with House Republicans, alleging they were physically or sexually abused by then-State Rep. Nick Miccarelli (R., Delaware).
House Republican lawyers investigated the allegations and found the women credible. They called on Miccarelli to resign, but he denied the accusations and served out his term, which ended last year.