PA House Democrats spent $248,000 to settle harassment complaint

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Pennsylvania State Rep. Tom Caltagirone, D-Berks, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, listens to testimony during a House Judiciary Committee public hearing in Harrisburg, Pa., Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2009. The hearing was on how the state constable system operates. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

HARRISBURG (WSKG) — A newly published report shows state House Democrats have paid $600,000 in taxpayer money to settle complaints against four lawmakers over the last decade.

Two of those were sexual harassment complaints–including one against 21-term Representative Thomas Caltagirone that cost nearly a quarter of a million dollars.

According to documents obtained by the Philadelphia Inquirer and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the House Democratic Caucus paid $248,000 in 2015 to settle a complaint from one of Caltagirone’s staffers.

It apparently involved years of physical and verbal harassment. The settlement included a nondisclosure agreement.

After the deal, the Berks County Democrat won an uncontested race for a new term in the seat he’s held since 1977.

This wasn’t Caltagirone’s first sexual harassment complaint.

In 1994, a female staffer said he’d exposed himself to her and threatened her with a gun. But Caltagirone denied it and the case was never prosecuted.

He has not responded to requests for comment.

In a statement to the newspapers, House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody said “we take all complaints seriously, act on them quickly and investigate them, going to great lengths to try to ascertain the facts.”

He later issued a more detailed statement.

“I cannot discuss the specifics of a settlement where the parties agreed to keep the terms confidential. They may only be disclosed pursuant to a Court Order or the Right to Know Law, with redactions if and when appropriate,” he said. “I don’t like it and I wish I could disclose more of the specifics, but I have to follow the law.”

He also differed slightly with the Post-Gazette and Inquirer’s report of the total settlement cost since 2007, saying it was $514,300.

The report on Caltagirone’s settlement is the second one in recent days about sexual harassment by Pennsylvania lawmakers, and comes amid a flood of such stories nationally.

Daylin Leach, a progressive Democratic Senator from Montgomery County, has also been accused of inappropriate behavior with various women, who spoke to the Inquirer and Post-Gazette.

However, there was no official charge or settlement in that case.

Leach has since said he’s “taking a step back” from his Congressional campaign.

Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat, has called for both Caltagirone and Leach to resign.

This story has been updated to reflect a more detailed statement from House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody, as well as Governor Tom Wolf’s call for Caltagirone to resign. 

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