Pa. Sen. Daylin Leach sues woman who accused him of sexual assault

State Sen. Daylin Leach. (Emma Lee/WHYY, file)

State Sen. Daylin Leach. (Emma Lee/WHYY, file)

Updated: 8:36 p.m.

Pennsylvania state Sen. Daylin Leach is suing a woman who claims the Montgomery County Democrat coerced her to perform oral sex on him when she was 17.

Leach, who was representing the woman’s mother in an attempted murder case at the time of the alleged assault, said he has been defamed by the accusations.

The woman, Cara Taylor, has said publicly that Leach raped her in 1991. The lawsuit called Taylor’s claim “a salacious and despicable falsehood” and calls Taylor a “notorious perjurer.”

During her mother’s trial, Taylor claimed that she had committed the crime her mother was accused of committing. Leach represented Taylor’s mother in that case.

Taylor later pleaded guilty to perjury.

Taylor has said that Leach used his power over her and her mother to lure her into performing oral sex on him. In a Facebook post cited in the lawsuit, Taylor says Leach drove the then-teenager to his apartment, undressed, and prodded her into oral sex by asking Taylor to “help” him.

Leach’s suit also names two other women, Gwen Snyder and Colleen Kennedy. Snyder and Kennedy have publicly accused Leach of assaulting Taylor, and pressured Leach to resign.

Kennedy worked on one of Leach’s campaigns. Snyder made headlines in 2016 when she said she was sexually assaulted at the 2016 Democratic National Convention by a Bernie Sanders delegate.

Leach, 57, declined WHYY’s request for comment, saying in an email, “We are letting the complaint speak for itself today.”

Taylor, Kennedy, and Snyder also did not agree to interviews, but instead released a joint statement through attorney Marni Jo Snyder.

In it, Snyder, the attorney, said Leach’s lawsuit was “an attempt to silence these women.” She added: “I will only say at this time that truth is an absolute defense to the claim and that Mr. Leach’s condemnation of the #MeToo movement as a method for defamation makes me sick.”

In addition to the accusation levied by Taylor, Leach was the subject of a 2017 Philadelphia Inquirer story that said the progressive state senator subjected several women to comments and touches they regarded as inappropriate.

Leach ended his congressional bid shortly thereafter, but has remained in the state Senate representing parts of Montgomery and Delaware counties despite calls from Gov. Tom Wolf and others to resign.

Senate Democrats have also hired an outside law firm to investigate Taylor’s accusations against Leach.

Through the lawsuit, Leach is seeking at least $50,000 in damages. The lawsuit says the repeated accusations have “materially affected” his ability to serve as a state senator and caused his wife to suffer health issues due to “the stress of the highly humiliating and public false attacks.”

In a Facebook post that went up Friday, Leach said he was suing as a last resort.

“My family and I are no longer able or willing to endure this,” the post read. “For the sake of the issues I care about, for the sake of my family and friends and staff, for the sake of my reputation, and for the importance of truth itself, I simply cannot continue to silently and passively allow this. I have always said that I wanted due process. Now, I am going to get it.”

This story has been updated to include comment from Taylor, Kennedy, and Snyder.

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