SPRINGFIELD, PA – March 6, 2023 – Last week, reports were released accusing Rep. Mike Zabel (D-Delaware) of sexual misconduct. Senator Tim Kearney issued the below statement:
I am deeply troubled by the recent allegations brought forward against Rep. Zabel. Sexual harassment is unacceptable behavior that has been unfortunately widespread and tolerated for too long. Allegations must be taken seriously, and I believe that accusers are entitled to protections, whether that’s an elected official, advocate, or constituent.
Public officials are held to a higher standard and must earn and keep public confidence. These incidents involving Rep. Zabel have caused a loss in public confidence. One of the founding pillars of being a good public servant is trust. These allegations have caused fractures in that pillar.
Any infraction, misuse of power, or egregious behavior must be dealt with swiftly, and in a manner that protects the integrity of what it means to be a public servant. While the House Committee on Ethics investigates these allegations, Rep. Zabel must step back from his legislative duties.
Elected officials must be held to a high standard. Unless Rep. Zabel can earn back the public trust and restore the integrity of his office, he should resign from office.
Whether an investigation determines these allegations to be true —and I believe the House will implement appropriate consequences — a bigger issue remains:
How do we, as a legislature, move forward to create policies that prevent this from happening in the future? I believe that the Senate Democratic Caucus has been proactive on that front with the supplemental rules update to our sexual harassment policies.
We must create a firm culture of intolerance for anyone who engages in sexual harassment, and foster a space for victims to be seen, heard, and protected.