HARRISBURG — A state House investigation found that the two women accusing State Rep. Nick Miccarelli of physical and sexual abuse were “credible,” according to excerpts of its findings released Friday by one of the lawyers representing the accusers.
The lawyer, Terry Mutchler, said she disclosed portions of the investigators’ findings to counter what she called misleading statements by a lawyer for Miccarelli, a Republican from Delaware County.
Both women’s statements were corroborated by witnesses who were “contemporaneously aware” of the alleged instances of abuse, according to the House report. The chamber’s lawyers conducting the investigation found those witnesses “and their recitation of events to be credible as well,” it said.
“The House believed these women and found them credible,” Mutchler, of the Mutchler Lyons law firm, said Friday.
On Thursday, one of Miccarelli’s lawyers, Joseph Podraza of Sprague & Sprague, said the assertion that the House believed the two women was “false.”
“There was no such determination along that line,” he told reporters.
He added: “And let’s remember that the process was that the [House] investigators interviewed people in a vacuum, without an opportunity for the sides to exchange or point out or even attempt to point out problems with what was being relayed to the investigators. And any time you act in a vacuum, you tend to get wrong results.”
Podraza made the remarks after a Wilkes-Barre court hearing during which one of the women — Rep. Tarah Toohil, a Luzerne County Republican — obtained a permanent restraining order against Miccarelli.
In seeking the protection-from-abuse order, Toohil alleged that Miccarelli verbally and physically abused her when the two dated in 2012 and that he had engaged in “intimidating” behavior in the years after that. In the House’s report, the lawyers who interviewed Toohil said she told them Miccarelli had kicked, pinched, and “verbally berated” her for talking. She also told investigators that he once held her by the neck against the wall of her Capitol office.
“Investigative Counsel finds Representative Toohil’s statements to be credible,” according to the report.
Miccarelli has repeatedly and strenuously denied the allegations by Toohil and the second woman, a political consultant who has asked to remain anonymous and who has claimed that Miccarelli sexually assaulted her after the two ended their relationship in 2014.
During Thursday’s hearing, the two sides reached an agreement to extend the temporary restraining order for three years. It allows Miccarelli to work in the Capitol — where both he and Toohil have offices — attend legislative meetings, and participate in floor votes. It also requires him to surrender personal firearms. As part of the agreement, Miccarelli did not admit to any of the allegations.
Later, he said he had been “vindicated” by the order. Miccarelli’s spokesman Frank Keel agreed that the protection order “affirms his innocence.”
Jarrett Ferentino, Toohil’s lawyer, retorted at the hearing: “I don’t know on what planet that would seem to be a vindication.”
Miccarelli’s legal and public-relations team has said it cannot comment directly on the report because of confidentiality concerns. Mutchler said no requirement prevented her from commenting or releasing portions of the report.
The accusers and Miccarelli were given a report of the House investigation’s findings through their attorneys. Republicans who control the House have said they cannot release the report to the public because the women filed a confidential complaint based on the chamber’s sexual harassment ban.
Mutchler said her firm has pressed House Republicans to take additional steps to ensure the safety of the two women and others who work in the Capitol, since Miccarelli has spurned calls by the chamber’s GOP leadership team for him to resign. She did not give details.
If it chooses, the House could launch an ethics investigation, strip Miccarelli of committee assignments, reduce his staff, or attempt to expel him, officials said.