HARRISBURG — House Republican leaders on Thursday called on Rep. Nick Miccarelli to step down as the top prosecutor in Dauphin County said he would investigate allegations by two women that the Delaware County legislator sexually or physically assaulted them.
Fran Chardo, Dauphin County's district attorney, said his office would take the lead on the inquiry but noted what he called "joint jurisdiction" with the state Attorney General's Office. Chardo did not say if his office was asked to look into the allegations or chose to do so on its own after they were made public Wednesday by the Inquirer and Daily News and the Caucus, a publication of LNP Media Group in Lancaster.
In their statement, the GOP leaders called the women's accusations "very serious" and said they should be "thoroughly investigated" by law enforcement.
The House had also launched its own inquiry into the matter after the women filed a Feb. 8 confidential complaint about Miccarelli and asked legislative leaders to take action against him. That probe was expected to be complete by week's end, a spokesman said.
Miccarelli, meanwhile, continued to deny what he has contended are unfair and untrue claims.
In the complaint, one of the women accused the five-term legislator from Ridley Park of forcing her to have sex after she and Miccarelli ended a relationship in 2014. The other said he was physically abusive and threatened her while they were dating in 2012, alleging he once brandished a gun and threatened to kill her and himself while driving them at speeds in excess of 100 mph.
Neither woman was identified by name in the complaint; one is a state official and the other a political consultant.
The women had not previously chosen to pursue charges related to their accusations, saying that they had feared personal or professional reprisal. Both said they were empowered by the #MeToo movement. On Thursday, their lawyer, Terry Mutchler, said her firm would cooperate with the law enforcement probe.
Miccarelli said through a spokesman that he has no intention of resigning and repeated his claim that he is a victim of a "grossly unfair" system that has deprived him of due process.
"It needs to be said that the #MeToo movement is laudable, but what about the #NotMe movement?" spokesman Frank Keel said in a statement. "Nick Miccarelli is an innocent man."
The House Republican leaders' statement was issued on behalf of eight lawmakers, including Speaker Mike Turzai (R., Allegheny) and Majority Leader Dave Reed (R., Indiana), according to spokesman Steve Miskin. In it, the legislators said Miccarelli's accusers "deserve to have their allegations addressed by law enforcement and to see the legal process move forward."
"We recognize the right of every American to due process through our court system and to remain innocent until proven guilty," the statement said, adding: "But, what we have in front of. the House right now is about the integrity of the institution, the safety of its staff and members, and the best paths forward for the individuals involved – the accusers and accused, as well as their respective families."
Their call for Miccarelli's resignation came as he was stripped of his security privileges at the Capitol, according to four sources familiar with the move.
That means he is no longer permitted to park his car in a Capitol garage reserved for lawmakers, top officials and other state employees or enter the Capitol through non-public entrances using a security access card, the sources said.
He will now be required to pass through manned security stations at doors used by members of the general public, the sources said. The sources spoke on the condition they not be identified because they are not authorized to speak about the investigation.
Miccarelli has called the allegations "one thousand percent lies" and in a lengthy statement sent to reporters and posted on Facebook Wednesday evening, he questioned their timing, noting that he got married just over a week ago.
On Thursday, he told the Delaware County Daily Times that he will run for reelection.