Pennsylvania Lawmaker Accused of Sexual Harassment Resigns

A Pennsylvania state lawmaker submitted his resignation letter, a week after a union lobbyist accused him by name of having sexually harassed her four years ago.

Democratic Rep. Mike Zabel of Delaware County said in the letter to Democratic Speaker Joanna McClinton that his resignation will take effect March 16, leaving enough time for her to order that the vacancy be filled during the May primary.

“The toll is just too great on my family, and was too detrimental to my well-being. I need to focus on what matters,” Zabel said in a brief phone interview with The Associated Press, shortly before sending the resignation letter.

McClinton and other Democratic leaders issued a statement saying he had “chosen to do what is best for his family, the people he represents, and the state House of Representatives.” His district office will remain open, they said.

“Allegations of this nature are impossible to litigate in a public forum,” Zabel wrote in a text following his phone conversation with the AP. “It was always my intention to go through the Ethics Committee process and defend myself there. At this point, though, I am unwilling to put my loved ones through any more of this.”

Andi Perez, a lobbyist with the Service Employees International Union, went public with her allegations during a hearing in January but did not name Zabel. In a statement last week, however, she accused him by name of caressing her leg while they were discussing legislation outside the Capitol, and said he did not stop when she moved away from him.

Rep. Abby Major, a second-term Republican from Armstrong County, said during a news conference Wednesday for International Women’s Day that she was approached by Zabel at a “local establishment” in Harrisburg in mid-November. She did not know him well, she said.

“He was clearly intoxicated, his lips and teeth were stained red from wine,” Major said. He complimented her appearance and put an arm around her, touching her back, Major said.