Pa. House Dems spent $250,000 to settle one harassment complaint

The Pennsylvania  House Democratic Caucus paid $248,000 in 2015 to settle a complaint from a staffer of state Rep. Tom Caltagirone, D-Berks. (AP file photo)

The Pennsylvania House Democratic Caucus paid $248,000 in 2015 to settle a complaint from a staffer of state Rep. Tom Caltagirone, D-Berks. (AP file photo)

A newly published report shows state House Democrats have paid $600,000 in taxpayer money to settle complaints against four lawmakers over the last decade.

Two of those were sexual harassment complaints — including one against 21-term Rep. Thomas Caltagirone that cost nearly a quarter of a million dollars.

According to documents obtained by the Philadelphia Inquirer and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the House Democratic Caucus paid $248,000 in 2015 to settle a complaint from one of Caltagirone’s staffers.

It apparently involved years of physical and verbal harassment. The settlement included a nondisclosure agreement.

After the deal, the Berks County Democrat won an uncontested race for a new term in the seat he’s held since 1977.

This wasn’t Caltagirone’s first sexual harassment complaint.

In 1994, a female staffer said he’d exposed himself to her and threatened her with a gun. But Caltagirone denied it, and the case was never prosecuted.

He has not responded to requests for comment.

In a statement to the newspapers, House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody said, “We take all complaints seriously, act on them quickly and investigate them, going to great lengths to try to ascertain the facts.”

The report on Caltagirone’s settlement is the second one in recent days about sexual harassment by Pennsylvania lawmakers, and comes amid a flood of such stories nationally.

Daylin Leach, a progressive Democratic senator from Montgomery County, has also been accused of inappropriate behavior with various women who spoke to the Inquirer and Post-Gazette.

However, there was no official charge or settlement in that case.

Leach has since said he’s “taking a step back” from his congressional campaign.

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