Sixteen female state representatives presented a letter to House leadership Monday asking accused groper Rep. Mike Zabel to resign.
The lawmakers—all Republicans—led by Rep. Kristin Marcell (R-Richboro) hand-delivered the letter to Speaker Joanna McClinton (D-Philadelphia/Delaware) and Zabel.
Zabel (D-Drexel Hill), first elected in 2018, sent a letter to House Democratic leadership Friday saying he would resign from committees and seek treatment for an undisclosed illness. However, he refused to give up his $102,844-a-year job.
Multiple allegations of Zabel’s mistreatment of women have surfaced in recent days, though his inappropriate behavior was an open secret among House members, legislators have since confirmed.
“Women have spent generations breaking down barriers to hold positions of public trust and confidence, but the disgusting unwanted sexual advances by people like Rep. Zabel have continuously held women back or slowed the progress they have made,” the letter said. “Too often, the behavior of such men and the silent complicity of others has, sadly, prevented others from even believing the truth.
“Knowing Rep. Zabel will not be serving in the halls of the Capitol is the only way women who have had to deal with the grotesque and repeated conduct from this serial harasser will be able to feel safe,” the letter said.
Marcell, a first-term member of the House, has been outspoken in her calls for Democrats to set aside partisanship and stand with Zabel’s alleged victims.
“What makes this situation even more intolerable is that House Democratic leadership, which has at times consisted of several different women, covered up these actions and remained silent until Rep. Zabel was finally caught. The timeline of how his identity was kept quiet – despite his identity being reported as ‘an open secret’ by the news media in the weeks preceding– is there for everyone to see.”
“The speaker’s call for a vote to shut down the mention of Rep. Zabel’s name during the House rules vote is there for anyone to see. How can we allow Rep. Zabel to continue to hold the title and position of trust he abused – especially when he has yet to deny any of the accusations made against him? How can any party prioritize its political power and voting margin over women’s safety?” Marcell asked.
During a podcast with DVJournal, Marcell said she had been warned by a “number of female colleagues to avoid being around” Zabel.
Zabel has refused to respond to Marcell’s story and has ignored repeated requests for comment. In a sign Democrats are even more on the defensive as this scandal unfolds, a McClinton spokeswoman said Monday she was a ” no comment” as well.
“As disturbing allegations continue to mount against Rep. Zabel, it’s clear that Speaker McClinton and Democratic leadership will not address these allegations in an effort to protect their razor-thin majority,” said Republican Senate Leadership Committee Deputy Communications Director Mason Di Palma. “Rep. Zabel is no longer able to serve the people of his district effectively and should resign immediately. Democrats’ silence on this matter shows that they are only concerned with holding onto power and not standing by victims of sexual abuse.”