HARRISBURG — After a nearly nine-month investigation, prosecutors on Friday said they will not pursue criminal charges against former State Rep. Nick Miccarelli, at the request of a woman who accused him of sexual assault.
Dauphin County District Attorney Fran Chardo said in a statement that the woman, a political consultant, has “moved on with her life and does not want to see Miccarelli again in any context.” He added that she requested that his office close the investigation without charges.
“The case took a long time to investigate because of a large volume of digital evidence, some of which was not originally accessible,” Chardo said, noting that Miccarelli and the woman cooperated in the investigation.
Sources said Chardo’s announcement grew out of a deal between the parties that places limits on what the two can say in public and on potential civil litigation.
Asked about the agreement, Chardo said Friday, “I can’t speak to that. It wouldn’t be appropriate.”
In a lengthy statement, the woman said, “This period has been painful and difficult for me both personally and professionally, and the prospect of a long and drawn-out criminal proceeding promises even more trauma for me in the future. I simply must move on.”
Miccarelli, a Republican and Iraq War veteran from Ridley Park, has strongly denied wrongdoing, telling a reporter this year that “what you are being told is absolute lies, a thousand percent lies.” He did not return a call seeking comment.
His spokesperson, Frank Keel, said in a statement: “Nick has maintained his innocence from the outset of this media-fueled ordeal. Because he is innocent, he always knew today’s positive outcome would come to pass. The legal process matters, as this case amply proves. There should be no tolerance for false accusations, which are calculated to destroy the lives of public or private figures.”
Chardo declined to respond to Keel’s characterization.
Terry Mutchler, the woman’s lawyer, objected to the implication that the District Attorney’s Office made any determination of guilt or innocence.
Mutchler referred to the woman’s statement, in which she described her experience as “the latest example of how the cards are stacked against victims of sexual assault.”
“So many women are like me,” the woman wrote. “They don’t want payoffs. They don’t want vengeance. They simply want awareness and protection; an expectation of safety to do our jobs, go about our lives, and be productive without having to be afraid or ashamed. Sexual violence is not, and cannot be considered, the ‘cost of doing business’ for a woman in politics."
The allegations were first reported Feb. 28 by the Inquirer and Daily News and the Caucus after the consultant and another woman — Republican State Rep. Tarah Toohil of Luzerne County — filed a confidential complaint with House lawyers accusing Miccarelli of physical or sexual assault in separate incidents going back to 2012. Both women had dated Miccarelli. Toohil claimed she had been physically assaulted and abused by Miccarelli in 2012.
Chardo’s investigation stemmed from the complaint, which also was investigated by top lawyers in the House. That inquiry found that Toohil and the consultant were credible, and said their statements were corroborated by witnesses who were “contemporaneously aware” of the alleged instances of abuse.
Fearing for her safety after her story went public, Toohil obtained a three-year protection-from-abuse order against Miccarelli. The restraining order was part of a negotiated settlement in which Miccarelli admitted no wrongdoing. It allowed him to continue working in the Capitol, where both he and Toohil had offices, but required him to relinquish his firearms except when he was on duty with the Pennsylvania National Guard.
Toohil was assigned a bodyguard when she was in the Capitol, while Miccarelli was stripped of some of his committee assignments and his desk on the House floor was relocated farther from her.
After the allegations surfaced, Miccarelli, 36, revealed he would not seek reelection. Despite calls for his resignation by House Republican leaders and Democratic Gov. Wolf, Miccarelli finished his 10th year in office Nov. 30, the last day of the legislative session.
In doing so, he was able to retire with free lifetime health benefits, given to lawmakers with 10 or more years of service. Miccarelli, who was elected in 2008, also will receive a state pension.
Chardo’s investigation focused on the consultant’s allegation because the alleged assault occurred in Harrisburg, where the district attorney is based.
The consultant has asked that her name not be disclosed. She alleged in the complaint that Miccarelli was mentally and physically abusive when the two dated off and on for about a year.
In the House complaint, she alleged that when she tried to end her relationship with him in late 2014, he came to her home and forced her to have sex. She told the Inquirer and the Caucus, a newspaper covering state politics, that she repeatedly told him that she did not want to be intimate. She said he held her neck during parts of the alleged assault.