As State Lawmaker Claims Abuse, Party Leaders Shield Her Colleague

State Representative Tarah Toohil, left, with her body guard at the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg. Ms. Toohil obtained a protection order in March against a fellow Republican lawmaker who she claims assaulted her.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — When she is 10 minutes from the Pennsylvania Statehouse, Representative Tarah Toohil phones the sergeant-at-arms. A security officer then meets her in the parking garage and escorts her to her office. He hovers at her elbow all day, during committee hearings, debates and votes.

The reason she has a bodyguard can be found a few yards away from her on the House floor: a fellow Republican lawmaker, Representative Nick Miccarelli.

In March, Ms. Toohil obtained an order of protection against Mr. Miccarelli, whom she used to date. She claims that he kicked her, pinched her and pinned her by the neck to a wall in the ornate Capitol, and once brandished a gun and threatened to kill them both.

“It’s a nightmare, navigating and rerouting around this building,” Ms. Toohil texted a reporter observing the House from the gallery on Tuesday, while she angled herself away from Mr. Miccarelli on the floor. The lawmakers’ desks are in the same row, just 10 seats apart. Ms. Toohil set a bulky red tote on her desk to block him from view, as her bodyguard sat nearby.

After an internal House investigation in March found Ms. Toohil’s complaints to be credible — along with those of another woman, a political consultant — Republican leaders called on Mr. Miccarelli to resign.

But Mr. Miccarelli, who denies both women’s accusations, has refused to quit, leading to the astonishing sight of one lawmaker being protected from another by a husky bodyguard in the Capitol Complex in Harrisburg.

In state legislatures across the country, lawmakers have resigned in humiliation after accusations and investigations into sexual misconduct, as the #MeToo reckoning has rolled from one workplace to the next.

In many cases, the lawmakers were pressed by party leaders to step down; in Arizona and Tennessee, legislators voted to expel the accused members.

But no statehouse seems to have witnessed the spectacle now unfolding in Pennsylvania, where despite Ms. Toohil’s court-issued protective order, Mr. Miccarelli continues to work, apparently shielded by the party leadership.

Since March 1, when they called on him to quit, top Republicans in the House have taken no actions that would put pressure on Mr. Miccarelli to comply. They have not stripped him of committee assignments, introduced a resolution for expulsion, or even cut his office budget.

House Speaker Mike Turzai refused this week to address the issue. As he strode quickly on Wednesday from the back door of his office suite to an elevator held open for him by a guard, he was asked why Republicans were not moving to expel Mr. Miccarelli or otherwise apply pressure. He did not reply.

Ms. Toohil, 38, said that after she broke off the relationship in 2012, she feared going public for years, because Mr. Miccarelli, an Iraq War veteran, carried a concealed weapon in the Capitol, a practice that is not uncommon in Harrisburg.

“I always felt, if he lost his political career because I outed him, he would kill me,” Ms. Toohil said.

Now, under the terms of the protective order, he has surrendered his guns and must enter the building through a public doorway equipped with a metal detector.

Ms. Toohil said that in the private sector, Mr. Miccarelli, 35, would surely have been fired or suspended. But not in the Statehouse.

“He’s on the floor, he’s in the building and he’s in the caucus room,” she said. “Nobody should have to go through this.”

Mr. Miccarelli did not respond to interview requests left at his Capitol and district offices and through his spokesman. The spokesman, Frank Keel, said the fact that the House had taken no punitive action was an acknowledgment that the case against him was weak.

“They have not moved to do anything because they’re baseless allegations,” Mr. Keel said.

Mr. Miccarelli, from Delaware County in the southeast corner of the state, has been in office since 2009, but he recently said he would not seek re-election. He wants to serve out his current term, ending on Nov. 30, when he will become eligible for a pension and lifetime health benefits for his family. He recently married.

“He’s handling it like a gentleman,” Mr. Keel said of the Statehouse situation, noting that there had been no brushes with Ms. Toohil and her plainclothes guard since the order of protection was imposed. “I think he just believed, ‘If I announce I won’t seek re-election, maybe the pressure will ease off.’ Unfortunately for him, it hasn’t, because these two vindictive women seem hellbent on destroying the guy’s entire life.”

Mr. Miccarelli and Ms. Toohil were once a golden couple in the House of Representatives. Deployed to Iraq with the National Guard a few months after winning his first race, Mr. Miccarelli returned to the General Assembly in late 2009 as a war hero. The next year, Ms. Toohil, a youthful lawyer from Luzerne County in northeast Pennsylvania, knocked off the Democratic majority leader in her first race, helping Republicans take control of the House.

In her basement office in the Capitol, during her most extensive interview to date on the subject, Ms. Toohil pulled one tissue after another from a box on her desk. Her account of Mr. Miccarelli’s actions were consistent with the report of House Republican legal staff, which found the two women credible.

Ms. Toohil said she decided to file a complaint with the House in February, more than five years after the relationship with Mr. Miccarelli ended, because she had heard from the second woman, who dated Mr. Miccarelli after she did, that he had sexually assaulted her.

“I felt really guilty that, had I spoken out — had I not been afraid — then that wouldn’t have happened to her,” Ms. Toohil said.

For a long time, she said, she was in a kind of denial about Mr. Miccarelli’s physical and psychological abuse. Then as the #MeToo movement gained prominence, a House colleague who knew details of the rocky relationship brought it up with her.

“I was like, what are you talking about?” Ms. Toohil said. “ ‘I consented to that, I was in that relationship, that’s my fault,’ I said to her. She was like, Tarah, you were a victim of domestic violence. When she said that, it washed over me. ‘You’re an attorney, what is wrong with you?’ It was like, oh my goodness. I was shocked.”

The second woman, a prominent political consultant in Harrisburg, spoke on the condition that her name not be made public because she accuses Mr. Miccarelli of rape. The report prepared by House lawyers deemed the consultant’s statements to be credible and corroborated by other people she spoke to at the time the events occurred.

The consultant said that when she told Mr. Miccarelli she was ending their relationship in 2014, he was angry and entered her bedroom.

“He took his jacket off,” the woman said, speaking in the office of two lawyers who represent her and Ms. Toohil. “He said, ‘take your clothes off.’ I said no — I was in bed. I turned away from him. He said a couple more times as he was getting undressed, ‘Take off your clothes.’ I kept saying no. He got in bed and forcibly removed my clothes.”

Though she told co-workers of the episode the next day, she said, she did not report it to law enforcement.

The House investigators found that Mr. Miccarelli had retaliated against the political consultant by publishing her name on social media in violation of the House’s sexual harassment policy.

“The allegations are extremely serious,” investigators wrote, referring their findings in March to the district attorney of Dauphin County, which includes Harrisburg. Fran Chardo, the district attorney, said on Friday that his investigation was continuing. So far, no charges have been filed.

In a statement last month to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Mr. Miccarelli’s spokesman, Mr. Keel, said, “The truth is, Nick Miccarelli is the one who’s being retaliated against by two former, vengeful girlfriends who have yet to produce one bit of evidence to support their outrageous allegations.”

A Democratic House member who is an ally of Ms. Toohil, Representative Leanne Krueger-Braneky, said that the House, which is overwhelmingly male, was “the most misogynistic place I’ve ever worked.”

She said Mr. Miccarelli’s party was protecting one of their own. “House Republican leadership has not appeared to be willing to take any actions that would back up their call for his resignation,” she said.

The political consultant, a Republican, whose clients have included prominent state officials, said the House majority had failed in its responsibilities. “Clearly they have zero interest in helping women,” she said.

A spokesman for House leadership, Stephen Miskin, said there was no effort to protect Mr. Miccarelli. “I understand to the outside world that calling for somebody to resign might not seem like a big deal, but around here that felt like a nuclear bomb,’’ he said.

House legal staff is investigating new allegations that Mr. Miccarelli, in showing intimate photographs of the political consultant to the news media, may have violated Pennsylvania’s 2014 “revenge porn” law.

That was not the first time Mr. Miccarelli was accused of circulating embarrassing photographs.

In October 2012, after Ms. Toohil broke up with Mr. Miccarelli, their House colleagues were at their desks on the floor one day when a video suddenly landed in their inboxes. Sent anonymously, it included photographs of Ms. Toohil from her college days a decade earlier; in one image, drug paraphernalia is visible on a table, while in another, she appears to lean in to kiss a woman on the lips.

The Pennsylvania State Police conducted an investigation, but no charges ensued.

Mr. Miccarelli’s spokesman said the lawmaker had nothing to do with the video and called Ms. Toohil’s claim that he had distributed it to smear her “a scurrilous lie.”

As Ms. Toohil thought of going public with her abuse complaints early this year, she confided to a friend about her anxiety.

“I said, ‘I don’t want to speak out,’ ” she recalled. “Domestic violence is not my issue. I have my set of issues — child welfare, property tax relief.

“And my dear friend said to me, ‘Well, this is your issue now.’ ”

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