Allegations dog Sen. Leach at Conshohocken fundraiser

Three women arrested during protest over sexual harassment claims against Pennsylvania state lawmaker Daylin Leach

About 30 protesters chanted and carried signs outside a fundraiser for Montgomery County Pennsylvania state  Sen. Daylin Leach of Montgomery County in Conshohocken Thursday night, demanding he resign over allegations of inappropriate conduct toward women.

Three protesters who entered the event were arrested.

In December, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported several young women said  Leach subjected them to comments and touches they regarded as inappropriate.

“It’s overwhelming evidence that this man is not fit for public office,” said Allison Kruk in an interview Thursday. She was one of those arrested at the demonstration. She said she was cited for trespassing and released.

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The Inquirer story said eight women and three women recounted instances in which Leach had put his hands on young women or steered conversation into sexual areas that upset them.

Kruk said the accusations were troubling, and Leach’s response made it worse.

“Instead of looking at his own behavior and taking accountability for that, he made the conscious choice to write this off as a couple of bad jokes,” Kruk said.

Leach didn’t respond to a request for an interview Thursday about the planned protest, and he didn’t engage the protesters at the event.

After the publication of the Inquirer piece, Leach acknowledged engaging in bawdy humor, but he said he never touched women inappropriately.

He responded defensively at first to the accusations, attributing them in part to rumors circulated by political rivals. He later said he would reflect on how his behavior affects others.

At the time, Gov. Tom Wolf and some other officials called on Leach to resign.

The controversy effectively forced Leach to abandon a planned congressional candidacy for 2018. Several prominent Democrats signed an invitation as co-hosts of Leach’s event, billed as his birthday fundraiser.

Thursday night, Leach thanked supporters for coming to the event, saying that “just being here shows a little courage.”

“All I can tell you is I’m going to keep causing trouble. I’m going to keep getting in trouble,” he said. “I’m going to keep taking unpopular positions sometimes, keep trying to find new ways to address problems.”

An earlier version of this story included some imprecise or inaccurate characterizations of the Inquirer article about Leach’s conduct. 

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