PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Pennsylvania's governor said Sunday a state senator should resign over published allegations he behaved inappropriately toward women.
Gov. Tom Wolf's call for Sen. Daylin Leach to quit followed a story quoting former campaign and legislative staffers and advisers who accused Leach, 56, of behavior ranging from highly sexualized jokes and comments to touching they considered inappropriate.
Wolf called Leach "a leader on important policy issues" but said "this conduct cannot be excused."
Leach, a legislator since 2003, is seeking the Democratic nomination next year for Congress in the Philadelphia suburbs.
In a statement, Leach blamed the accusations on an unnamed political opponent and denied ever inappropriately touching women.
"I have brief discussions in public places literally dozens of times a day and of these incidents, I remember one not at all, and one only vaguely," Leach said. "But they both allegedly occurred in crowded rooms with lots of people and cameras around. I was never alone with the women involved. And I never, in any way, intentionally or unintentionally, touched them inappropriately. It did not happen."
Aubrey Montgomery, a former finance director for Leach's 2008 state senate campaign, told the paper she complained to Leach about a sexualized tone in the office that offended her.
"When I expressed my discomfort, Daylin suggested I just didn't get the joke, labeled me a prude and characterized me to my colleagues as the campaign's wet blanket," she said. "The more uncomfortable Daylin made me, the more he would dial up the intensity. The more I expressed my discomfort at his sexual and off-color humor, the funnier it was to him."
Montgomery has worked for a man running against Leach in the Democratic primary next year, Dan Muroff.
Wolf said the state lacks an "adequate structure for victims to report this type of behavior" and called on leaders from both parties in Harrisburg to "commit to real reform that protects victims."
The paper said none of the women who say they saw or heard questionable conduct by Leach said they had been assaulted, denied a promotion or had their careers threatened.
Leach's attorney, George Bochetto, said in a statement Sunday night the senator "is very hopeful to continue with all of his hard work for his constituents and plans to also continue with his congressional campaign."