Delaware County Democrat Mike Zabel resigned Wednesday after being publicly accused of sexual harassment by two women.
A state lawmaker resigned from the House Wednesday amid allegations of sexual harassment.
Rep. Mike Zabel (D-Delaware) said in a letter to Democratic Speaker Joanna McClinton (Philadelphia) that his resignation will take effect March 16, leaving enough time for her to fill the vacant seat during the May primary.
“The toll is just too great on my family, and was too detrimental to my well-being,” Zabel told the Associated Press. “I need to focus on what matters.”
In a written statement, McClinton and other Democratic leaders said Zabel 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.
Andi Perez, a lobbyist with the Service Employees International Union, accused Zabel of sexual harassment, saying he caressed her leg while they were discussing legislation outside the Capitol. She said he did not stop when she moved away from him. Perez originally went public with her story in January during a hearing, but did not name Zabel until last week.
On Wednesday, Rep. Abby Major (R-Armstrong) also accused Zabel of sexual harassment. She said she was approached by him at a “local establishment” in Harrisburg in mid-November. She said he was intoxicated, put his arm around her and was touching her back. He then asked her if she wanted to leave and go upstairs with him. Major said as she was escorted to her car by a colleague, Zabel followed them.
Major said other women have told her similar stories about Zabel, some who do not want to speak publicly.
“Allegations of this nature are impossible to litigate in a public forum,” Zabel said. “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.”
Last week, Zabel told Democratic House leaders that he was stepping down from the Judiciary Committee but was not resigning. He also said he had plans to enter inpatient treatment of some kind.
There is currently one vacancy in the closely divided state House, where Democrats flipped control of the chamber in November after 12 years in the minority. A special election for the vacancy, a heavily Republican district in central Pennsylvania, was scheduled by McClinton on Tuesday for the May 16 primary.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this story.