Pa. House: Investigation into Rep. Nick Miccarelli sent to law enforcement

State Lawmaker-Womens Assault Allegations
State Rep. Nick Miccarelli (R., Delaware) during a news conference last month in the Capitol Media Center.

HARRISBURG — House Republican leaders on Wednesday said they had completed their investigation into allegations that State Rep. Nick Miccarelli sexually or physically assaulted two women, including a fellow legislator, but they declined to publicize the findings.

Instead, they said, they will hand off their work to criminal investigators.

In a statement, House GOP spokesman Steve Miskin said that the inquiry by the chamber’s lawyers into the allegations against Miccarelli was complete, and that copies had been sent to the Dauphin County District Attorney’s Office, which earlier this month launched its own investigation into the matter.

Miskin said the report itself, which also was given to lawyers for Miccarelli and for the women, will not be released because House policies prohibit details from internal investigations from being made public. House lawyers were examining whether the allegations by the women included violations of the House GOP Caucus’ sexual harassment and workplace violence policies.

In essence, said Miskin, “it’s a personnel matter.”

The House report is based on an investigation that began Feb. 8, when Rep. Tarah Toohil (R., Luzerne) and a second woman, a private consultant, filed a confidential complaint with House lawyers. The District Attorney’s Office has been investigating the allegations for at least two weeks and has interviewed both women.

House Republican leaders have called on Miccarelli, 35, a Republican from Delaware County, to resign.

An Army veteran of the Iraq War, Miccarelli has vigorously denied the allegations and said he will not resign. In an interview with the Inquirer and Daily News and the Caucus, the Republican lawmaker referred to the allegations as “absolute lies, one thousand percent lies,” and said that he “never laid a hand on a woman.” The Inquirer and Daily News and the Caucus first reported the accusations by the women last month.

Through a spokesman, Miccarelli said Wednesday that his legal team was reviewing the House’s findings, but said that because of a confidentiality clause in the House’s report, they could not comment.

Terry Mutchler, the lawyer representing Toohil and the second woman, would not discuss the report’s findings, but said, “The most important thing is that the House concluded that these serious allegations of sexual assault and domestic violence were credible. In short, the House believed these women.”

Late last week, Toohil, 38, obtained a protection-from-abuse order against Miccarelli, whom she has accused of having a fascination with guns. A hearing is scheduled for Thursday in Wilkes-Barre on whether to extend or lift the protection order.

In the complaint with the House, Toohil claimed she was hit, pinched, and kicked by Miccarelli when they dated in 2012. She also said he threatened to kill her with a gun. The other woman said she was sexually assaulted by Miccarelli in 2014 after they stopped dating.

An attorney for newspapers and media companies said Wednesday that House GOP lawyers should have released more details about their inquiry.

“Pennsylvanians have a right to know what’s happening in the halls of the legislature and how the House responds to allegations of inappropriate behavior,” said Melissa Melewsky, media law general counsel for the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association. “The report deals with serious allegations of misconduct by a public official. … The House’s report would provide insight into the allegations, evidence that may (or may not) dispute them, and the recommendations and actions taken by the House in response.”

Rep.  Leanne Krueger-Braneky (D., Delaware), one of the legislature’s most outspoken advocates for strengthening sexual harassment policies, questioned why it took so long to refer the case to law enforcement. “This is exactly why we need an independent process to review complaints of sexual harassment, separate from caucus politics,” she said.