Pa. Democratic adviser resigns after controversy over Facebook comments

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Valerie Kean Staab, a onetime senior adviser to the head of Pennsylvania’s Democratic party, resigns over controversial Facebook comments on sexual harassment.

HARRISBURG — A senior adviser to the head of Pennsylvania’s Democratic Party has resigned her position with the party following controversy over her social media comments on sexual harassment.

In a statement Tuesday, Democratic party chairman Marcel Groen said he asked Valerie Kean Staab to resign her an unpaid position because of her posts and comments on Facebook that argued that some women exaggerate their experiences involving sexual harassment.

“The Facebook comments posted by Valerie Staab reflect neither the views of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party nor me,” Groen wrote. He added: “I sincerely apologize to anyone who was offended by her actions or the party’s response.”

In her resignation letter to Groen, dated last Friday, Staab wrote that “it has become clear that I can no longer continue to do the good work for this party as I have become a focal point for animus that is affecting your ability to lead the party.”

She added: “Although I have clearly continued to maintain that sexual harassment in the work place and sexual violence anywhere are blights on our society and our democracy, I have to acknowledge that my attempts to start a dialogue on other issues have divided many and most importantly have impacted your ability to lead the party.”

After her comments came to light last week in the Inquirer and Daily News, Staab said it was never her intent to sound insensitive, and that she “will not be satisfied until we can permanently eliminate all forms of gender inequity and sexual harassment from our society.”

Staab made her comments on her personal Facebook account late last month. She wrote, among other things, that, “These omg he touched my ass bulls— has to stop” and she’s “never been a big fan of women to start with.”

She suggested that women who are sexually assaulted should call the police and, “If someone touched your ass, go get counseling.”

When he was first reached for comment last week, Groen said that Staab’s remarks were “not the line of the party” but that it was important to let people speak “as long as they don’t cross the line.”

In the controversy that followed, several Democrats, including Allegheny County Democratic Chairwoman Nancy Mills and State Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky (D., Delaware), asked for Staab to resign her position.