EDITORIAL: Abandoned by own party, Pa. lawmaker accused of sexual misconduct should resign
- Pennsylvania Senator Daylin Leach has been accused of sexual misconduct.
- Leaders in Leach's Democratic party have called for his resignation.
- Leach said a recent investigation into his conduct vindicated him.
- Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa said that the report in no way absolves Leach.
When the leaders in your own party want you gone, it’s usually time to leave.
That’s been true since political parties were invented centuries ago, and it’s true now.
Traditionally, party leaders will protect their own with the ferocity of a lioness defending her cubs.
For proof, just look at the way Republican leaders bend over backwards to support President Donald Trump, despite his tragically flawed character and daily, sometimes hourly, missteps.
So, when Pennsylvania Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Allegheny, asked for the resignation of another Democratic Senate colleague on Thursday, it was a big deal. Actually, a very big deal.
It should also be noted that Costa is not alone. A number of other Democratic leaders want Leach to resign.
When you lose the support of your own party, you can no longer be an effective legislator.
Given the allegations of sexual misconduct in the case, however, Costa really had little choice.
It’s time for Daylin Leach to resign.
The Montgomery County lawmaker, according to Costa, has a “lengthy pattern of troubling behavior” that is simply unacceptable.
Leach has already admitted to improper behavior, including telling inappropriate jokes, but has denied the more serious charges against him.
Summary report: Both Costa and Leach were reacting last week to an investigation of sexual misconduct claims against Leach. Given the reactions of the two men, it’s hard to believe they had read the same summary report on the investigation.
The probe examined an allegation that Leach sexually assaulted a woman in 1991 while he represented her mother in a criminal matter, as well as claims that he used sexual language, engaged in inappropriate touching and told off-color jokes.
The investigation by Harrisburg lawyer Michael McAuliffe Miller found no evidence of actionable discrimination or harassment. It said the rape claim could likely only be resolved if the parties testified under oath.
Very different takes: Leach felt vindicated by the findings.
Costa, well, he had a much different take.
He said that the report in no way absolves Leach and that Democratic senators want more information to be added to the final version of the report.
“Senator Leach’s course of conduct created an unprofessional and sexualized environment,” Costa said. “That should not be tolerated in any workplace; we will not tolerate it here. For this reason, I believe Senator Leach should resign from the Senate.”
Leach said Costa told him directly the report exonerated him and threatened severe consequences if Leach released the summary, which Leach posted online.
“The fact is that Senator Costa wanted me to participate in a cover-up. He threatened me to keep silent about a taxpayer-funded report and tell the press a lie,” Leach said.
The summary said there are “certain factual inconsistencies” in Cara Taylor’s recollection of what happened in 1991, when she says she was the victim of a “sexual assault of a minor by forcible compulsion” at Leach’s hands. But the report added she “steadfastly believed her account of what transpired — her testimony on this point was detailed and passionate.”
Leach adamantly denies any inappropriate conduct with the then-17-year-old Taylor, Miller said.
In fact, he sued Taylor and two others in January, claiming they “combined to publish, republish and widely disseminate a salacious and despicable falsehood” about him.
Taylor’s attorney also wants Leach’s resignation: Taylor’s attorney said she was “astonished” that the report only recommended sexual harassment training for Leach.
“In the post #MeToo age, we know any employer or administration that tolerates sexual harassment and assault, tolerates discrimination and silencing of women,” Carrie Goldberg wrote in an emailed statement.
Goldberg, too, asked for Leach's resignation.
Given his own admissions, and the serious allegations against him, it’s hard to envision that Leach can continue to effectively represent the residents of Pennsylvania.
It’s time for him to resign. It’s everyone’s best interests.