HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A grand jury that investigated an allegation of sexual assault by a member of the Pennsylvania Legislature has issued a report that says victims are often reluctant to report abuse and lawmakers accused of misconduct can avoid accountability and keep their pensions by simply resigning from office.
The report released Monday by Dauphin County District Attorney Fran Chardo additionally states that policies in the General Assembly concerning sexual assault and harassment are confusing, lack transparency, and were “inadequate to properly address a pervasive problem.”
A Joint State Government Commission study found that in the last five years, there were over 600 claims of sexual harassment within state government, and $1.9 million in taxpayer funds paid were out in settlements as a result of such complaints, the report states.
Because each of the four caucuses has separate policies and procedures for reporting sexual harassment and misconduct, the report recommends a centralized and independent Office of Legislative Responsibility that would have the authority to investigate claims and report misconduct directly to law enforcement.
All members of the Legislature and their staff who become aware of sexual misconduct or harassment by a member should be mandated to report that misconduct, the report states.