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Democrat Rep. In Pennsylvania Legislature Resigns Following Sexual Harassment Allegations

Rep. Mike Zabel, a Democrat serving in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, has tendered his resignation after multiple people accused him of sexual harassment.

Zabel has resigned, delivering his notice to Pennsylvania Speaker Joanna McClinton and reversing earlier indications that he would defend himself against the women who have accused him of sexual harassment.

The accusations began last week when Andi Perez, a lobbyist working for the Service Employees International Union, issued a statement saying that Zabel had begun rubbing her leg during a meeting they had to discuss legislation. When she attempted to physically distance himself from her, she says, he continued his advances.

Rep. Abby Majors, a Republican serving Armstrong county, joined the list of accusers Wednesday when she also publicly accused him of sexual harassment. According to Major, Zabel approached her while she was trying to settle her tab. After complimenting her appearance and putting his arm around her, the Democrat lawmaker asked her to slip upstairs to somewhere quieter.

A disturbed Major, catching the eye of another male representative, made her escape and says she told him “Rep. Zabel had propositioned” her and was “being a creep.”

Speaking to the Associated Press, Zabel told the wire service that the “toll is just too great” on his family and was “detrimental” to his well-being.

In a statement on Twitter, Andi Perez said she believed Rep. Major’s claims. “Harassment is not partisan,” she said.

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

It’s unclear what allegations Zabel would defend himself against, given that he heavily applied shame for his behavior toward his accusers.

Last week, Zabel had indicated that he intended to remain in the legislature but that he would be seeking inpatient treatment. “My illness has caused some behavior that I regret, and I agree that additional intervention is necessary for me to fully recover,” he wrote in a letter to Democratic leaders. “I am in the process of securing additional intensive treatment, beyond the outpatient treatment I have been receiving and am currently working with my health care providers and my family to identify an appropriate inpatient program which I will be entering as soon as possible.”

While his accusers, Republican leaders, and the rank-and-file from both parties at the state level have called for his resignation, the Democrat leadership had indicated that this would not be beneficial. Instead, they agreed with Zabel that he should “take a step back from his work and focus on the challenges before him.”

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