As a new member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, I was extremely disappointed to learn that a colleague who is a credibly accused sexual harasser is not being held accountable by House Democrats.

In fact, during last week’s special session, every House Democrat voted against ethics rules that would have put institutional protections in place in the House.

This situation was brought to light as a result of an event recently conducted by Rep. Mark Rozzi (D-Berks), during which a lobbyist alleged a complaint of sexual harassment and expressed her deep concern that there was nowhere for her to go to lodge a complaint. Prior House operating rules only applied when a complaint was made by a member or employee of the House, not by members of the public, lobbyists, or others who interact with House members.

As part of one of the largest freshman classes in recent memory, and now with 61 female members in the House, I joined many of my colleagues in coming to Harrisburg with the goal of working together and getting things done for our constituents. That is why I am so disappointed that we could not collaborate last week to hold members accountable for their misconduct while carrying out their duties in public office.

Though much has been done to help advance women’s safety, especially in the halls of the state Capitol, it is clear more still needs to be done. News reports indicate the harasser’s identity is an open secret and I am dumbfounded that House Democratic Caucus leaders are taking no action to publicly identify and hold accountable their fellow caucus member for these credible accusations.

Not only do I and other female House colleagues I have spoken to feel unsafe, but every woman who enters the building is now at risk of unwanted touching, advances, and comments from this individual. I do not understand why we cannot work together to ensure we advance women’s safety in this, and every workplace. I do not understand why every Democrat House member universally rejected measures to hold sexual harassers accountable.

Since I was sworn in almost a month ago, while we have not been in session, I have learned from my House colleagues about the unfortunate dangers of Harrisburg.

Now in addition to always having someone walk with me while outside of the Capitol complex for safety, I have to worry about a current male House member who is credibly alleged to have assaulted a female lobbyist.

It is past time for Democrats to take such matters seriously and make sure everyone can do their job and have professional interactions with their elected officials safely and without fear.

It is my great hope that when we gavel into the regular legislative session and adopt a set of operating rules under that umbrella, we include these protections and a system for accountability. To do any less would be an egregious failure of the House’s Democratic leadership.

Intolerance for sexual harassers should transcend partisanship and gender – men and women of every political party and partisan belief should all agree that we must hold sexual harassers accountable.

As elected leaders of the Commonwealth, we must set an example for conduct. What message are we sending to our constituents – and to our children – if we allow a known harasser free rein inside the state Capitol? As a mother, what will I say to my daughter if I did not stand up at a moment like this to protect women at risk of sexual harassment?

I urge the House to come together and demand action. Party doesn’t matter here. Respect, decency, and leadership do.

State Rep. Kristin Marcell represents the 178th District in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, including portions of Bucks County. She was first elected to the Pennsylvania General Assembly in 2022.

4 thoughts on “Rep. Kristin Marcell: We need to act to keep the Capitol safe from the accused sexual harasser”

  1. Tell you what,Rep. Kristin Marcell. Contact Andi Perez. Ask her who assaulted her and why she’s not going to the police. I wouldn’t call it workplace “harassment” as they weren’t work colleagues. However, she’s describing assault. If you know the man’s identity, name him! Instead, you/she are ONLY trying to score political points. You don’t get political points Kristin when the head of your party (Donald Trump) has dozens of accusers of bragged that he assaulted women.

  2. Dear Lauren. I am really disappointed to see this issue being used by you as a vehicle as to somehow “thump on Trump.” If you know anything about using the criminal justice system for attacks on women, you will recognize that “groping” will go to the bottom of the investigate pile and ultimately end up being almost impossible to prove. Also, it would seriously damage her career as a lobbyist. Having worked for more than 30 years in Harrisburg, I was there for the years when most jobs occupied by women were patronage and subject to hiring and firing on just whims. If you were pretty, you got hired (but, of course, there was a quid pro quo) and certain things were expected on a continuing basis, if you were not pretty, you may get hired on competence, but, of course, you were expected to perform a lot of political work and also donate 10% of your compensation. Not every politician or supervisor was this corrosive, but enough were to make life not all that pleasant. By the way, wasn’t it just a few years ago that the mantra was “every woman should be believed?”

  3. Absolutely Amazing,, Violence Against Women Act= Billions $pent Destroying American Families… But when it’s Never Implemented against it’s Champions,,Who seem to enjoy a steady reprieve from it’s intended accomplishment… The President on down to HandsyANDY of NY…THE LAW is used violently in Court Houses across the Nation…??? As a victim of False allegations,I’ve personally seen ” “LAW” used in Family Court… Used to separate Father’s from Children.. MOSTLY IN THE ADDICTION OF FEDERAL FUNDING. It’s not hard to see how society got where it is and where it’s headed

  4. Totally agree. And while we’re at it, let’s keep the US capitol and white house safe from sexual predators. Especially ones who openly brag about their crimes!

    “I moved on her actually. You know she was down on Palm Beach. I moved on her, and I failed. I’ll admit it. I did try and f**k her, she was married. I moved on her very heavily in fact I took her out furniture shopping. She wanted to get some furniture. I said I’ll show you where they have some nice furniture. I moved on her like a b**ch. I couldn’t get there and she was married. Then all-of-a-sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything. You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful… I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything.”

    …oh wait, since when did Republicans care about keeping the US capitol safe lol?

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