HARRISBURG (AP) — Leaders of Pennsylvania’s Democratic Party on Friday added to calls for a state senator to resign over accusations of sexual misconduct.
The statement came a day after the Senate’s top Democrat said an inquiry he commissioned into complaints about Sen. Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery, found a “lengthy pattern of troubling behavior.”
The lawyer’s inquiry looked into reports of harassment and offensive jokes, as well as a woman’s complaint that she was 17 in 1991 when Leach allegedly lured her into his home and pressured her for oral sex. Leach denies that happened.
A summary of the lawyer’s findings said there are “certain factual inconsistencies” in the woman’s recollection of what happened but said the claim could likely only be resolved if the parties testified under oath.
It also said it found no evidence of actionable discrimination or harassment, and Leach said the lawyer’s inquiry absolves him.
However, Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Allegheny, disputed that the inquiry absolves Leach, and called Thursday for Leach’s resignation. Democratic Party leaders followed suit on Friday.
“Pennsylvanians deserve legislators who can support women in both policy and in practice,” party Chairwoman Nancy Patton Mills and Vice Chairman Sharif Street said in their three-sentence statement. “Abusive behavior from anyone — Democrat or Republican — is unacceptable and has no place in Harrisburg.”
Leach, a longtime standard-bearer for liberal causes in the state Legislature, has rebuffed calls from Democrats to resign going back to 2017.
Some of the claims against Leach involve behavior that Costa said created an unprofessional and sexualized environment in Leach’s office.
Leach says he has never been predatory toward women or deliberately made anyone uncomfortable, though he acknowledged that he has used poor judgment in his choice of humor.
On Friday, Leach’s campaign issued a fundraising email and a statement that suggested he has no plans to resign, saying “I look forward to focusing my full energies on protecting the values and principles that are important to us all.” His four-year term runs through 2020.
Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, called for Leach to resign in December 2017 after a Philadelphia Inquirer report quoted former campaign and legislative aides, mostly anonymously, accusing Leach of making sexualized jokes and comments and touching women in ways they considered inappropriate.