HARRISBURG — Facing allegations that he sexually or physically abused two women, State Rep. Nick Miccarelli on Wednesday announced he will not seek reelection and instead will leave office when his term ends later this year.
Miccarelli, 35, a Republican from Delaware County who had previously vowed to run for office while fighting to clear his name, said he made the decision "after much personal reflection and consultation" with family and legislative staff and colleagues.
"My decision not to seek re-election should in no way be misconstrued by the public or misrepresented by the media as any admission of wrongdoing on my part," Miccarelli said in a statement. "I intend to continue to work to clear my good name and reputation and put this current controversial situation behind me, once and for all."
He said withdrawing his name from the ballot for the May 15 primary was in "the best interests of me and my family to move on to the next chapter in our lives."
Terry Mutchler, a lawyer for the two women who have accused Miccarelli, called the decision to forgo reelection "a good first step — but it's not enough."
"With these types of serious assertions of domestic violence and sexual assault, Rep. Miccarelli should heed the call of his own leadership and step down immediately," she said.
House GOP leaders, in an extraordinary step, called on Miccarelli to step down shortly after the Inquirer and Daily News and the Caucus reported on the allegations late last month. Gov. Wolf also has said Miccarelli, a state representative since 2009, should resign.
House lawyers last week completed their investigation into the women's allegations and forwarded their findings to the Dauphin County District Attorney's Office. The chamber's report found the two women credible, according to portions of the document obtained by the newspapers.
The women — one a political consultant and the other a Republican state legislator from Luzerne County — accused Miccarelli of sexual or physical abuse in a confidential complaint filed last month with top House lawyers. Both women dated Miccarelli.
The legislator, Rep. Tarah Toohil, said Miccarelli hit, kicked, and pinched her during their relationship in 2012 and said that during one argument, he brandished a gun and threatened to kill them both. After coming forward with the allegations, Toohil was granted a restraining order this month against Miccarelli.
The other woman, who has asked to remain anonymous, says Miccarelli forced her to have sex after the two ended their relationship in 2014.
In a written statement Wednesday, the second woman called on Miccarelli to step down before his term ends.
"Rep. Miccarelli's decision to not seek re-election has moved us one step towards making myself and other women safer. But it is not enough. He remains in the House of Representatives where Speaker Mike Turzai has failed to even remove him from his committee assignments, despite his House finding our assertions credible," she stated. "I again call on him to immediately resign and I am continuing to move forward with the process to pursue criminal charges against Rep. Miccarelli."
Miccarelli has repeatedly and strenuously denied the allegations. The Iraq war veteran, who got married last month, has called the accusations part of a political or personal smear campaign against him.
G. Terry Madonna, a political science professor at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, said he was not surprised at Miccarelli's decision to not seek reelection given the media coverage of the case and pressure to quit.
"The real question is whether there will be pressure on him to leave immediately," Madonna said.
Steve Miskin, a spokesman for House Republicans, said: "We still believe he should resign." Miskin said he was not aware of any conversations House leaders may have had with Miccarelli since calling for his resignation.
Miccarelli's decision to withdraw his name from the May primary ballot leaves Republican leaders in a bind. They will have to scramble to find a candidate to mount a write-in campaign, political officials said.
Delaware County GOP Chairman Andrew Reilly said in an interview Wednesday that he was aware Miccarelli had been in ongoing talks in recent weeks with local Republican leaders to determine whether it was "wise to simultaneously run a political campaign while fighting to clear his name."