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Pennsylvania officials address sexual harassment in Capitol

Sexual harassment has become the topic of the times everywhere.

In recent years, allegations have been raised against figures, such as actor and comedian Bill Cosby. Bill O’Reilly and Roger Ailes both left Fox News under a cloud after women came forward.

The headlines really started to blow up starting with producer Harvey Weinstein in New York and London in October. From there it went to others like and Senate candidate and former judge Roy Moore in Alabama, U.S. Sen. Al Franken in Minnesota, hip hop mogul Russell Simmons and morning show hosts Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose.

In Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf is weighing in. He released an op-ed on Monday on the topic, pointing to efforts in the General Assembly to legislate changes that would do things like banning non-disclosure agreements for settlements that are made with taxpayer funds or serial offender cases.

That language goes to stories that came out about congressional settlements in Washington, where $15 million has been paid out over the past decade for harassment claims. Wolf says that’s not something he wants to see in Harrisburg.

“If anyone feels threatened, in any way, in our Capitol, you should feel empowered to report it to the Capitol Police,” he wrote. “However, I understand that part of what keeps victims from coming forward is being unable to do so anonymously. That’s why I’ve tasked my staff to work on a means to anonymously report inappropriate behavior that occurs.”

The op-ed highlights Democratic actions in the arena — including Wolf’s own “It’s On Us” campaign on campus sexual violence — but the sentiment is garnering support from the other side of the aisle, too.

“No one, for any reason, whether working or visiting our state Capitol, should have to endure inappropriate and unacceptable behavior, or feel threatened for reporting those incidents to authorities,” said state Rep. Kerry Benninghoff, R-Bellefonte.

Lori Falce: 814-235-3910, @LoriFalce

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