Letter to NorthcentralPa.com from local attorney Mary Kilgus:
It seems the recent national phenomena of the “#Metoo!” movement has taken over the Pennsylvania legislature, but only as an exhibition of how much has not changed. It’s worth a look at what is going on, and what is not reported by our illustrious media, and what is not taken seriously.
Generally speaking, my idea of a perfect Sunday afternoon is relaxing with a newspaper—a real one—and on this particular Sunday last, I was reading the New York Times. Imagine my surprise to see a story about an issue at our state legislature on the front page of the Times, yet I had seen not one story about it in our local newspaper or media centers, including the Harrisburg paper. I have since found out that the Philadelphia paper had a story about it, but that was it in central Pennsylvania. How would we know about that is going on in our state legislature if our 4th estate does not report it?
Simply stated, what is happening at our legislature right now is derelict, misogynist and downright pathetic. And no one cares. A republican state legislator named Tarah Toohil dated another republican state legislator, Nick Miccarelli, for a short time, and then broke it off. Ms. Toohil obtained a Protection from Abuse order against Mr. Miccarelli for, among other things, choking her in the stairwell of our Pennsylvania state capitol, brandishing a gun and threatening to kill them both. After she broke off her relationship with Mr. Miccarelli, he “dated” another woman, a well-known lobbyist in Harrisburg, and she reported that he assaulted her and raped her. The second woman’s case is being considered by the DA of Dauphin County. The House investigators found that Miccarelli had retaliated against the lobbyist by “publishing her name on social media” in violation of the House’s sexual harassment policy.
There was an internal House investigation that found both women “credible”. Many republicans in the House called for Miccarelli’s resignation, but he refused. As a result, Ms. Toohil has to attend her work as a legislator with a bodyguard, and enter the capitol building through a back entrance.
Let’s be clear, here. In order to obtain a Protection from Abuse, or PFA, a common pleas judge must find that the victim is in fear of immediate bodily injury. In addition to a judge finding Ms. Toohil credible, a House investigation found her credible. Yet, other than some legislators calling for his resignation and being ignored, no other action has been taken by the leadership in the house. Mr. Miccarelli has not been removed from any committees he’s on, there is no legislation introduced to expel him, he is able to come and go as he pleases with absolutely no repercussions. Yet it is the victim of the assault who must suffer. Not only does she have to have a body guard and place a big red purse between her and her abuser, who sits ten seats away from her in the House, she must suffer insults by the party leadership in the house, whose spokesman, Mr. Keel, has said publically that Mr. Miccarelli is the victim of “vicious lies by two ex-girlfriends”, how have “yet to produce one bit of evidence to support their outrageous allegations”.
That, my friends, is victim-blaming.
Apparently, top party officials (all men), plan to do nothing about this. They are protecting their own. They have zero interest in helping women.
Mr. Miccarelli is now being investigated for showing nude pictures of a girlfriend to the news media. The same news media that failed to report this to the legislators’ constituents.
I find it extremely interesting that this is allowed to happen in a vacuum, because our illustrious news media is either too lazy to look at a teletype and recognize a story, or complicit in tolerating violence against women. And where are our supposedly hard-working legislators on this spectacle.
Oh, right. No one is asking any questions. It’s only women.