Pennsylvania State Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montco) has been under a cloud for more than a year after allegations were first reported against him of sexually inappropriate conduct with some female subordinates and staff.
In recent months, the clamor against Leach has escalated, with a woman who claims Leach sexually abused her in 1991 when she was 17 reportedly delivering her complaint to Leach’s fellow legislators and an active social media campaign labeling him a “rapist,” as well as a recent protest at a public event Leach attended.
Leach has now responded by filing a defamation lawsuit against his accuser, who has come forward and identified herself as Cara Taylor, and two of the main female activists who have orchestrated protests against him, Philly attorney and activist Gwen Snyder and fellow activist Colleen Kennedy, a former volunteer on Leach’s 2014 Congressional campaign.
Leach accuses the three women in court papers of working together to “disseminate a salacious and despicable falsehood about plaintiff that they know to be false.”
“One fabricator of the lie against plaintiff is an admitted liar and notorious perjurer,” the lawsuit states. “The other two co-conspirators have shown a reckless disregard for the truth in gleefully republishing and embellishing upon the serial liar’s fabrication about plaintiff for the admitted purpose of destroying plaintiff’s reputation, cutting short his career in public service, and harassing and harming his family.”
Leach’s lawsuit, filed by Sprague & Sprague, further accuses the women of “seeking to exploit … an important political movement,” referring to #MeToo, and claims they “openly admitted the sole purpose of their endeavor is to see plaintiff’s ‘head’ mounted as a ‘trophy on their wall’ regardless of truth and common decency.”
The court papers include screenshots from Kennedy, Snyder and Taylor’s social media accounts repeatedly calling Leach a “rapist,” and indeed in one post talk about having a spot on their wall for Leach’s head.
Attorney Marni Jo Snyder released a statement on behalf of the three women responding to the lawsuit.
“They have strong voices that they are entitled to use, and I know that there are many people out there who value those voices. 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. It is not for Mr. Leach to determinue the nature or rules of the movement. The myriad of voices in this movement will decide for themselves who is and isn’t a friend and part of the movement and they don’t need him to make those decisions for them. These courageous women and their stories have a spotlight because of national activism and activism of their own. Mr. Leach’s decision to file an unsuccessful attempt to silence these women and an attack on free speech… and we are sick of it. They will respond further in their pleadings.”
Daylin Leach, who is married and the father of two children, was not met with a rush of approval after filing this lawsuit. “As the accusations continue to grow, it is appalling that @daylinleach is suing some of the brave women who have stepped up to tell their story,” tweeted Lt. Gov John Fetterman. “I called for it as a candidate and now as President of the Senate and your Lt. Governor: Sen. Leach needs to resign immediately.”
In a previous investigation by the Inquirer, Leach was reported as responsible for sexually intimidating conduct toward some women. Some male and female staffers accused him of making sexually inappropriate jokes and inappropriately touching female staffers, while others, including women, described him as a good boss with a “bawdy sense of humor,” the Inquirer reported. While Leach resisted calls by Gov. Tom Wolf to resign at the time the allegations were made, he did drop a planned bid for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
But the heat escalated after Taylor came forward to claim that in 1991, while her mother Kathy Speth was represented by Daylin Leach, then a criminal defense attorney, on charges of attempted murder of Taylor’s stepfather, that he drove her to his apartment and there pressured her into performing oral sex on him.
Taylor recently delivered a copy of her complaint against Leach to the state senate in Harrisburg, leading state senate leadership to initiate an investigation of the claims. In it Taylor says that she was 17 in the spring of 1991 when Leach got her to her concoct the story that she was responsible for the attempted murder to help acquit her mother; that in summer, the forced oral sex occurred at Leach’s apartment, and that in late summer, she became pregnant, likewise at his direction, to get a continuance in her mother’s trial and so prosecutors “wouldn’t go hard on me” if they decided to charge her for the attempted murder, later giving birth to her son in March 1992. Her mother was convicted after a trial took place in June 1992.
Leach in his lawsuit denied directing Taylor to lie in her mother’s murder trial, for which she later pleaded guilty to felony charges of perjury and was sentenced to 30 days in prison. Leach said the allegations of forced oral sex were first made by Taylor’s mother in a post-conviction relief act motion in 1999, but that Taylor declined to testify and her mother withdrew the allegation.
Leach also claimed his children have been ridiculed and harassed and his wife has developed health issues, including a “loss of feeling her extremities,” as a result of the stress of the public accusations leveled against him.
In addition to appearances at public protests by Snyder and Kennedy, they also organized a protest interrupting an awards ceremony held by the PA Medical Cannabis Society where Leach was scheduled to be the keynote speaker with chants including “Daylin has to go” and carrying a banner saying “Daylin is a groper.”
Read the full lawsuit below, posted on Scribd by PennLive.com.
Complaint 1-28-19 by on Scribd