Rep. Nick Miccarelli's accuser talks to investigators

State Rep. Tarah Toohil
State Rep. Tarah Toohil

HARRISBURG — Investigators spent more than two hours Monday interviewing the legislator who says State Rep. Nick Miccarelli was physically and verbally abusive to her when they dated in 2012 and has tried to intimidate her in the years since.

State Rep. Tarah Toohil (R., Luzerne) declined to discuss details of her talk with officers from the Capitol Police and Dauphin County District Attorney’s Office. It occurred as lawmakers reconvened at the Capitol and three days after a judge granted her a protection-from-abuse order against the Delaware County Republican.

In an interview in the Capitol, Toohil said publicly for the first time that she wanted Miccarelli to resign. She said her priority is safety.

“It was very difficult to acknowledge that there were things done to me,” Toohil said. “If I can prevent acts of violence against other people, then I have a duty to speak up.”

Toohil, 38, is one of two women who filed a confidential complaint with House lawyers last month accusing the 35-year-old lawmaker from Ridley Park of abusive conduct in past relationships. The second woman, who has not publicly disclosed her identity, says Miccarelli sexually assaulted her when she ended their relationship in 2014.

Their lawyer, Terry Mutchler, said Monday that both women “continue to work closely with all facets of law enforcement related to their assertions against Rep. Miccarelli.”

Miccarelli, a five-term legislator, has vehemently denied the claims. Through an attorney, he has characterized his relationship with both women as consensual and questioned the timing of their accusations so close to his getting married. He did not come to the Capitol on Monday, but planned to work from a district office, according to a spokesman.

Mutchler said Toohil repeated for investigators the accusations she leveled in the complaint to House lawyers — that Miccarelli was controlling and physically abusive, and that he attempted to use potentially embarrassing personal information against her.

In her application last week for the protective order, Toohil also asserted that Miccarelli could be a danger to her, himself, and others. She said that the Iraq War veteran has an obsession with violence and firearms, and that he has “in recent actions” engaged in “stalking, staring, finding ways to physically intimidate” her.

The temporary protection order signed Friday by a Luzerne County judge did not address specifically whether Miccarelli was permitted to enter the Capitol complex; he and Toohil have offices in separate wings. Judge Michael Vough has scheduled a hearing Thursday  to determine whether to extend it.

Miccarelli has contended the application for a court-sanctioned protection order is part of an ongoing campaign to smear his reputation.

Frank Keel, Miccarelli’s spokesman, said Monday that the representative plans to attend the hearing, but has not decided if he will testify.

In a statement, Keel added: “The mere fact that Toohil filed for a Protection From Abuse order, based on a complaint constructed of nothing more than conjecture and innuendo with no basis in fact, reveals her abuse of the PFA process.”

Keel has also said that Miccarelli has no intention of resigning, despite calls by Gov. Wolf, a Democrat, and House Republican leaders to do so.

In the interview Monday, Toohil said that for the last five years, she had been able to work in the same building as Miccarelli because she kept her experience quiet. Breaking the silence, she said, changed that dynamic.

“My silence has always bought me my safety,” said Toohil. “That’s the best way to say it. As long as I was silent, I felt that I would be safe.”

Dauphin County District Attorney Fran Chardo launched an investigation into Toohil’s and the second woman’s allegations after the Inquirer and Daily News and the Caucus reported on the confidential complaint the two filed with House lawyers early last month. The other woman was interviewed by the District Attorney’s Office on Wednesday.

In the complaint, Toohil claims she was hit, pinched, and kicked by Miccarelli when she dated him in 2012. She said she ended the relationship after Miccarelli allegedly brandished a gun and threatened to kill her, then himself, while driving over 100 mph, the complaint says.

House lawyers have also been investigating the allegations, and on Monday House GOP spokesman Steve Miskin said the inquiry was nearly complete. He could not say, however, whether any findings would be publicly released.