Rep. Nick Miccarelli accused of abusive behavior and sexual misconduct
Rep. Miccarelli accused of abusive behavior and sexual misconduct.
HARRISBURG – Two women have accused State Rep. Nick Miccarelli of sexually or physically assaulting them in separate incidents over the last six years, the Inquirer and Daily News and the Caucus have learned.
Top House leaders have launched an inquiry into the allegations, which the accusers leveled in a confidential complaint in early February, according to documents reviewed by the newspapers and interviews with multiple sources.
Miccarelli has strongly denied the accusations.
The women allege that the Delaware County Republican threatened, stalked, intimidated, or sexually assaulted them. One is a state official and the other is a political consultant. The accusers, who dated Miccarelli at different times between 2012 and 2014, are requesting that he resign, according to sources familiar with the investigation.
One of the women, who was in a relationship with Miccarelli in 2012, claimed in the complaint that during one argument, he brandished a gun while driving at speeds in excess of 100 mph, threatening to kill them both. The second woman alleges that Miccarelli forced her to have sex with him after their relationship ended in 2014.
The women said in interviews that they remained silent for years because they feared that speaking up would jeopardize their careers, if not their lives. They are coming forward as the #MeToo movement has emboldened many women across the nation to openly discuss what they describe as a pervasive culture of sexual harassment or abuse in the workplace.
Miccarelli, 35, a Ridley Park resident and Army veteran of the Iraq War who joined the legislature in 2009, denied the allegations in a text message and an interview this week, saying he had not seen the complaint and asserting that he was being denied an opportunity to directly address his accusers.
During that telephone interview, Miccarelli told a reporter: "What you are being told is absolute lies, a thousand percent lies," adding he had "never laid a hand on a woman."
In an earlier text to a reporter, Miccarelli challenged the sex-assault allegation, asserting that he and the woman had a consensual relationship and that she had never complained to him about his behavior.
In his text message, Miccarelli said hearing the claims from the newspapers was "the first time it was suggested that anyone's filed anything against me." He continued: "No one has ever given me or told me about any complaints."
He also wrote: "If you choose to ignore the truth, you do so at your own peril, and I will hold you accountable."
Sources told the newspapers that Miccarelli believes he has text messages, emails, and photos that counter the sexual assault allegations. In the interview, Miccarelli did not provide any such documentation. It was unclear if he had a lawyer. Asked if he had one, he did not name one.
The women filed the complaint on Feb. 8 with a senior House ethics officer and lawyer, saying Miccarelli's conduct violated the chamber's workplace harassment policy. The newspapers have reviewed the three-page complaint, as well as records that show House leadership has since appointed the lawyer to investigate. At least one other House lawyer is now involved in the inquiry.
The women's attorney, Terry Mutchler of the Harrisburg-based firm Mutchler Lyons, confirmed that her firm filed a complaint with the House. She said it details "serious assertions of sexual assault and domestic violence against a sitting member of the chamber." She said her clients are cooperating with the investigation.
The women were not named in the complaint but subsequently disclosed their identities to House lawyers investigating the accusations. The Inquirer and Daily News and the Caucus are withholding their names because the newspapers do not identify victims of alleged sexual assault or domestic violence unless they request that information be made public.
In their complaint, the women ask that Miccarelli be held accountable for his "heinous acts." They are also asking that "reasonable and appropriate safety measures" be put into place to protect them from retaliation, and that Miccarelli be told of the prohibition against retaliation in the chamber's policy.
The women say they and others believe Miccarelli currently may carry a gun into the Capitol — it was not clear if he has a permit to carry one — and are asking that he be banned from carrying a firearm in the Capitol complex.
Stephen Miskin, spokesman for House Republican leaders, confirmed in a statement Wednesday that the House had launched an inquiry and that "law enforcement is involved." He did not elaborate.
"The safety of the public, employees, and our members is of paramount concern," Miskin said. "These allegations are alarming, and if true, cannot and will not be tolerated in our caucus, in the House, or anywhere."
After the newspapers reported the allegations online Wednesday, Gov. Wolf, a Democrat, called on Miccarelli to resign. "This report and the conduct detailed are disturbing," the governor said in a statement.
Miccarelli also responded to the reports, posting a Facebook message in which he said he was "absolutely appalled" by the allegations and denied them "entirely." Saying he had not been treated fairly, he also wrote: "I would ask my constituents to ask themselves this: If your child was accused of something like this, would you rush to judgment, or would you wait to hear the facts?"
The five-term legislator's district, the 162nd in southeastern Delaware County, stretches from just outside Darby Borough to Philadelphia International Airport, and includes Ridley and Tinicum Townships as well as Glenolden and Folcroft Boroughs.
In interviews with the newspapers, the woman who dated Miccarelli in 2012 alleged that he was controlling and physically abusive, kicking, pinching and hitting her, even at legislative events they attended together.
She said she was so scared of Miccarelli that shortly before she ended her relationship with him, she stapled a note to her life insurance policy saying he should be considered a suspect in the event something happened to her. On the weekend she broke up with him, she said, she took members of her family to an undisclosed location.
In the complaint, in which she is referred to as "Client 1," the woman also alleges that Miccarelli attempted to use potentially embarrassing personal information against her. The woman said she spoke to police about it. Investigators encouraged her to provide more information, but she ultimately decided not to because she feared he would harm her.
The second woman, a campaign operative who works with state Republicans, alleged in the complaint that Miccarelli was mentally and physically abusive. They had dated off and on for about a year before that.
In the complaint, she alleges that when she tried to end her relationship with him in late 2014, he came to her home and forced her to have sex. In an interview, she said she repeatedly told him that she did not want to be intimate. She said he held her neck during parts of the alleged assault.
She also said that while the two were still in a consensual relationship, she believes, Miccarelli drugged her. In the complaint, she asserts that she became unconscious and that he engaged in "nonconsensual sexual behavior" that evening.
In his text message to the newspapers, Miccarelli said: "Let me make this clear. I've never drugged or sexually assaulted anyone."
The woman told the newspapers that she did not alert police or seek a medical examination. She said she feared for her safety and worried that she would face career reprisals. The woman has worked professionally over the last decade assisting statewide and legislative GOP campaigns.
The woman said she confided in a coworker the next day.
In an interview, the coworker, who spoke on condition of anonymity citing fear of retaliation, said the woman was unusually quiet that morning when she came into the office. The coworker asked what was wrong, and said the woman told her she had been sexually assaulted by "Rep. Nick Miccarelli."
"She was very shaken up and was very scared," the co-worker said.
Two sources have told the newspapers that the woman also has confided in at least four Republican lawmakers over the last six months about the incident, but asked them to keep her story confidential.
Emails shared with reporters also show she sought legal advice in the year following the alleged assault and initiated counseling last year to cope with the aftereffects of the incident.
In the months that followed the alleged assault, the woman said she struggled emotionally. She emailed her priest in October 2016, asking to meet with him.
"I was hoping you might say a short prayer over me," she wrote in the Oct. 31 email. "I have been having some spiritual difficulty lately I believe is a result of what happened to me."
In a Sept. 5, 2017, email, also reviewed by the newspapers, the woman sought the help of a Harrisburg-area therapist, saying: "I found your name when searching for therapists … that have experience dealing with PTSD sexual abuse issues."
Late last year, she emailed a female legislator supporting bills to strengthen sexual harassment laws. She described the alleged assault, but did not name Miccarelli, identifying him only as "an unmarried Republican House member." He has since married.
In the email, she tried to explain why she remained silent. Among other reasons, she described the impact going public would have on her father, who she said would carry "this burden in his heart for the rest of his life."
"I carry the great weight of my shame every day," she wrote. "I worry every day about what pain other women might be experiencing because I chose silence and self-preservation over doing what would have been right, although painful. I am ashamed of myself for that and I am not sure I will ever know what I can do to make up for it."
The woman said the legislator did not respond to her email.
The Inquirer and Daily News and the Caucus, a weekly publication based in Harrisburg, worked together to report this story. The Caucus is owned by LNP Media Group of Lancaster.
Caucus reporter Mike Wereschagin contributed to this article.