Lower Merion, PA — The leaders of the Delaware County Democratic Committee called for Pennsylvania State Senator Daylin Leach to resign from office last week, passing a resolution to that effect and setting an aggressive tone for Leach's ongoing political struggles.
It's been a tumultuous month for Pennsylvania State Senator Daylin Leach. After filing a civil suit against three women who have attacked him on social media and at public events claiming he has sexually assaulted one of those women in 1991, Leach's democratic party colleagues have gone on an offensive of their own.
"Sen. Leach has become more of a distraction than an asset to the party,” said Delaware County Democratic Party Chair Colleen Guiney.
Democrats Taking Leach to Task
Leach is the subject of an investigation by his own party. In December of 2017, the Philadelphia Inquirer ran a story that reported Leach's staff accused Leach of sexual misconduct, including unwanted physical contact and sex talk. By November 2018, a Bath, PA woman filed a private criminal complaint against Leach alleging the senator sexually assaulted her in 1991 when she was 17-years-old.
Cara Taylor filed the private criminal complaint and then gave it to all 49 of Leach's colleagues in the state Senate. The State Democratic Caucus, in January, hired an outside law firm to investigate the claims.
Leach denied the allegations in Taylor's complaint. “They are preposterous,” Leach said of Taylor's allegations. “I have never even so much as shaken hands with Cara Taylor.”
Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin said that the accusations in Taylor's complaint fall outside the statute of limitations and thus are too old to prosecute. But that hasn't stopped the Democratic Caucus from investigating the claims.
Those claims in conjunction with the prior claims of Leach harassing his staff members have state Democrats calling for Leach to resign. Governor Tom Wolfe, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, and fellow State Senator Katie Muth have all made statements that Leach should resign from his Senate seat.
Victoria Bissell Brown, a retired history professor at Grinnell College, who lives in Haverford Township, Pa. and is a member of the Haverford Township Democratic Committee is the latest to call for Leach to resign.
Brown wrote a letter to the editor to the Delco Times titled "Why the Dem committee asked Sen. Leach to step down" which detailed the stance taken by the committee in drafting the resolution asking Leach to resign.
"Seemingly sober advice to await an investigation and a legal verdict entirely misses the point of this call for Leach’s resignation," wrote Brown in the letter.
"The issue here is not whether Daylin Leach committed a crime," Brown added. "The issue is whether the Democratic Party has the right to determine which individuals can officially represent that party. The issue is whether Daylin Leach’s vindictive responses to a string of accusations have brought shame and embarrassment on the Democratic Party."
This call to step down and the reasons for the request are strikingly similar to Katie Muth's comments a couple of weeks prior. “His behavior is disturbing and unacceptable from a sitting elected official,” wrote Muth in a statement about Leach. “We must demand better of those we trust to act on behalf of this body as a voice for the people of Pennsylvania."
Muth, a rape survivor, has taken the added step by seeking for Leach to be expelled from the Senate. Muth commented on Brown's letter to the editor on Twitter, writing: "Great op-ed! We won’t sit down and shut up. We will stand firm & hold our sacred ground! With the privilege of his megaphone, he has sent a powerful message to all women in our area: sit down & shut up."
Brown is an active voice that speaks up for victims of sexual assault. One of Brown's most famous pieces was an op-ed she wrote for the Washington Post titled "Thanks for not raping us, all you 'good men.' But it's not enough."
The #MeToo Movement and Leach
This activism is an extension of the #metoo movement that has taken the spotlight on the National stage. And Leach himself had tied that hashtag into his civil suit, by naming both Gwen Snyder and Colleen Kennedy along with Taylor when he filed a 75-page document with the Philadelphia courts.
Colleen Kennedy is a political and public policy expert, that has experience with Leach.
Leach knows Kennedy because she volunteered many times on Leach's Congressional campaign in 2014. Leach's lawsuit filing states that they parted on good terms and since 2014 Leach has never been in the same room or communicated in person with Kennedy.
Gwen Snyder is a grassroots movement strategist that has experience with sexual misconduct allegations. Snyder, according to court documents, had accused a man of sexual assault and that man was later acquitted.
Leach states he has never personally met or spoken to Snyder.
Both Kennedy and Snyder began attacking Leach on social media, calling him predatory, an abuser, an assaulter, and a rapist.
Leach contends the trio then began working together, forming a sort of cabal with the sole purpose of pushing what Leach calls Taylor's false story due to their shared political and personal agenda.
The resolution Dems passed said the committee has grown increasingly concerned about ethical and sexual assault allegations directed toward Leach and is disturbed by his “strongly aggressive and demeaning comments made about Delaware County residents.”
“Most recently, Sen. Leach has filed a defamation lawsuit, which we believe lacks a viable prospect for success, and raises serious concern that the suit's primary objective is an attempt to silence his critics,” the resolution stated. “The pattern of attacking those who accuse him of inappropriate conduct has escalated to the point where we feel a need to speak out.”
Leach Spokesman Responds to Resolution
Leach spokesman Frank Keel blasted the committee for its resolution and said it had been cavalier in denying Leach his right to due process, setting a dangerous precedent.
“This process was anti-democratic, discussed in a private meeting with no public notice,” Keel said in a statement. “Further, the decision to pass this resolution was not reflective of the constituents or committee people of the district, as only two of the 49 municipalities in Delaware County are in the senator’s district.”
Guiney replied to the suggestion that Leach was being denied due process - a claim Leach has been making throughout this ordeal - by pointing out the meeting was posted on the party's website and open to all registered Democrats in the county.
Guiney noted that about 50 people showed up, including 40 party leaders, and that the resolution passed with overwhelming support.
George Badey, chairman of the Radnor Democrats, voted to oppose the resolution. He said he voted to oppose because he believes in the rule of law and due process.
“Even a powerful person accused of despicable things is entitled to due process,” Badey told the Delco Times.
Joe Foster, chairman of the Montgomery County Democratic Party, said that should Leach choose to run for office again, it would be up to a convention of the entire party to decide whether Leach gets endorsed by the party.
Foster said that the due process argument doesn't apply to political issues like endorsing candidates.
Social Media Responds to Leach
Responses on Social Media have been flying regarding Leach and his situation.
Molly Sheehan wrote, "If Daylin wanted a fair investigation, he wouldn’t have launched a defamation civil trial (w/o jury on his request) that may interfere w the actual investigation occurring in the Senate. Intimidating those involved w a lawsuit is not due process."
Colleen Kennedy wrote about civil suit and what her future holds on Twitter. She said, "All three of us are fine, and we are ready to continue to tell the truth in court. #WeBelieveCara and Gwen and I are so privileged to stand shoulder to shoulder with her."
And Cara Taylor wrote, "His underhanded, sneaky tactics know no bounds. I can't wait until you all know as much as I do. I can't wait until I am allowed to speak freely."
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