Well Gentle Readers, we just wrapped up April, and, just in case you missed all of the gratuitous posturing on facebook last month, it was also “Victim Awareness Month.” So many virtue-signaling Democrats were captured posing for photo ops standing on the Harrisburg Capitol steps (and the shoulders of victims) touting their legislation in support of victims of sexual assault.
What all of these Montgomery County Democrats also did during Victim Awareness Month was specifically avoid awareness of one particular victim:
Pauline first came to the attention of local Democrats at the September 6, 2018 Montgomery County Commissioners meeting, when she accused Commissioner Ken Lawrence of raping her. Those local Democrats promptly had Pauline forcibly removed from the meeting by a County employee and then swept those accusations under the rug, where they remained until your Humble Blogress unearthed them in a blog post last month.
Since then, I’ve had an opportunity to speak with Pauline. I asked her what made her come forward now, after so many years, and what she has done to pursue justice, and, along with that, closure. Here, in her own words, was her response:
“When it comes to talking about the rape, which this was only the second time I have mentioned it, I just get too emotional and my temper flares up. Last night [April 9, 2019] was the first time Ken claimed that he did not rape me. He said it only once and I called him a liar and said, “Eric drugged me. You raped me. It happened. It was you.” Then Val, who was trying to talk over me said, “We have already addressed this.” I responded, “No. It has been 7 months and it has NEVER been addressed.”
You asked me why I bring it up now. When people ask me why now, after so many years, that is the answer. It has been so many years that I have had this buried. Why should I keep Ken Lawrence’s secret any longer? I am not the one who has something to hide. Unfortunately, like so many women, that is what I felt for most of those years. Then when the #MeToo Movement blew up, the memory and all the shame that came with it, just hit me like a tidal wave. It was in 2017, that I decided I had to do something to rid myself of the pain. I chose to go on the attack instead of continue to be haunted by it.
That may sound overly simplistic, but that is it. I want people to know that even nobodies like me have the right to proclaim that they have been wronged and that people should listen.”
As mentioned in a previous post, Pauline was escorted from the September 9, 2018 meeting by a County employee after Chairman Val Arkoosh refused to let her be heard during public comment.
The County continues to do it’s level best to make sure Pauline’s story is not heard. For her outburst at the April 9 meeting, the Montgomery County Solicitor sent her the following warning letter, threatening to have her removed if her emotions get the better of her again.
Pauline disputes that she was unruly during the meeting in question. Regardless, the next communication she got from the Montgomery County Commissioner was a bit more urgent:
Here is the letter that was so urgent it needed to be hand delivered at taxpayer expense on the day of the May 6 “Conversation with the Commissioners” meeting in Abington. Of course, because these meetings are held all around the County and during evening hours, they are somewhat better attended than the regular meetings, which occur at 10:00 am on the first and third Thursdays while most people are at work.
“Conversation” implies a two-way dialog, so maybe they should consider renaming these events.
Here is the letter Stein attached to this email; this doesn’t sound like a dialog:
It’s interesting that Pauline was banned from this meeting, because of nebulous, flimsy, and ultimately unprovable “security concerns” but those same “security concerns” do not apply to regular Commissioners meetings.
Could it be, as mentioned above, that it’s because the “Conversations” meetings are much better attended?
In any event, Pauline was not at home when this letter was hand delivered, nor does she have access to email on her phone, so she showed up at the meeting anyway. Here is what she says happened to her:
Tonight, May 6, was the last town hall at Arcadia University. I was told by a woman who identified herself as head of public safety that I was uninvited. Even though I was not doing anything but standing in line to get in, she kept insisting I had to leave. I said the meeting is open to the public. She said it was on private property and she had orders to keep me out. She said a letter had been emailed to me. (OK, I am archaic, but I do not have a smart phone and the only way I can see email is when I am on my desktop.) I said I never saw an email. She asked me, “How did you know it was emailed?” I told her she just said so. (Really?) The police were called. No, I was not arrested. We had extensive conversation and I let the police walk me out to my car.
Pauline suspects the letter that was hand delivered to her home was intentionally delivered late, so that she’d be surprised into an emotional reaction at the door. She believes the County is trying to make her look crazy so that her allegations will be dismissed.
Despite all the posturing from Democrats this month, apparently there is a right way and a wrong way to pursue justice, a right way and a wrong way to act, if you are a victim.
A Tale of Two Victims
Again, I cannot help but compare and contrast the handling of Pauline’s case with that of Cara Taylor, the woman who accused Daylin Leach of sexual assault:
In her complaint, which has not been formally filed in the court system, Taylor alleges that in 1991, when Leach was a lawyer defending her mother in an attempted homicide case, he lured her into oral sex. At the time, she was 17 and trying to help her mother, she wrote. Taylor falsely took the blame for the attempted homicide — a decision that led to a perjury conviction.
Pauline’s affidavit is below:
So I put it to you, Gentle Readers: is being at a college party where drugs and alcohol are in use and things crossed a line, more, less or as believable as being “lured” into performing oral sex on someone?
Pauline Braccio has never been convicted of perjury.
And let’s be absolutely clear: Once again, I’m not here to play judge or jury. I’m not here to determine the veracity of these charges, because, quite frankly, I’m not qualified to do that. But neither are the people who have tried and convicted Daylin Leach in calling for his resignation. Cara Taylor gets media, political, and victim organization support. Pauling Braccio is treated like a pariah, forcibly escorted or even banned from public meetings.
Is it because she is an inconvenient woman from the wrong political party (a conservative, pro-life Republican) accusing a heretofore squeaky-clean, rising star of the Democrat Party?
From where I sit, it looks as if the Democrat party has determined that Daylin Leach is expendable. Party leaders can and will sacrifice his head as a token gesture to the #metoo movement in order to remain credible with feminists. Besides, he’s difficult to work with and he represents a safely Democratic district in Southeastern PA. He will be easy to replace with a more malleable and controllable Democrat.
If all of these media members, politicians and victim advocacy groups really believe that the default position should be to “believe all victims,” then how do they square this circle?
How do they explain their treatment of Pauline Braccio when held up against their treatment of Cara Taylor?
How do they explain their treatment of Pauline when held up against their own words?
Why have the local activist politicians who are raising their political profiles with #metoo advocacy responding to Pauline’s pleas for help with form letters? That’s if they respond at all.
Why has she been long ignored by the very government victim advocacy organizations your tax dollars pay to help her?
Why have independent advocacy groups neglected to even call her back?
Why has Pauline’s story been squashed in the media?
The hypocrisy is simply staggering.
The Pursuit of Justice
While my recent blog post re-ignited Pauline’s efforts to get justice, I was very disturbed to learn that those efforts have been ongoing since last fall and have been largely unanswered. Fortunately for Pauline, she had the foresight to document her efforts. Pauline’s recollection of events, in her own words:
“It was not until 2017, after there was so much news about Bill Cosby that what happened to me at PEEC found its way back up to the surface of my consciousness. I did not know what to do. The statute of limitations had run out long ago.
On June 20,2017, I contacted Ken through Facebook, without mentioning the rape. He brushed me off.
On October 16, 2017, I went to the Montco Board of Commissioners meeting for the first time. I was not sure about what to do about confronting Ken.
In mid-April 2018, when Chelan Lasha testified, she described how her memory was in “snapshots” not a video. That was when I realized I had been drugged. As I described above, I have three snapshots of that evening.
On May 17, 2018, at the commissioners’ meeting, I asked to meet with Ken following the meeting. He agreed. That exchange is on the video of the meeting on the county website.
Pauline says she privately confronted Ken Lawrence about her resurfaced memories and was dissatisfied with the outcome.
In June, Pauline says she went to the Towamencin police department to ask what she should do. They advised her to report it in the county where it took place.
On June 25, 2018, Pauline says she went to the Blooming Grove State Trooper Barracks in Pike County, PA to report the rape:
I spoke with Trooper Cabets and also wrote out my statement. Trooper Cabets took my statement seriously, however, since the Statue of Limitations had run out, [he said] D.A. Ray Tonkin would not pursue the case. I thanked him and came home.
Pauline says that the stress of having the rape resurface to interrupt her life took a toll on her health. A “frequent flyer” at the Montgomery County Commissioners’ meetings, on August 9, 2018, her heart went into arrhythmia. She made it home, took medication, but later had to go to the ER where she was admitted overnight and discharated the next morning.
“That was the day I decided I had to make it public. It was his secret, not mine. His shame, not mine. The next meeting was September 6. During the General Public Comment portion of the meeting, I went to the podium to speak. As soon as I mentioned the rape, Commissioner Valerie Arkoosh, who is Chair of the Board of Commissioners, interrupted me and would not let me continue. When I tried to go on, she had me removed from the meeting. I considered this a violation of my First Amendment right and an abuse of her position and power.”
The PEEC conference, where the alleged rape took place, was held on federal land, which made Pauline’s case a federal case. It’s not clear how the Feds got information on the rape; we can assume either the Pike County DA or the Blooming Grove State Troopers passed it along. Pauline:
“At the end of October 2018, I was contacted by the FBI. They had received information about the rape (I had not sent them anything) and asked me to go to Scranton to meet with them. It was then that I found out this was a federal crime because it was committed on federal land.
On November 2, 2018, I met with two FBI agents and told them of the rape that Ken had perpetrated on me after Eric had drugged me. About a week later, one FBI agent, Joe Traino, called me to tell me that there was nothing to be done since the statute of limitations had run out.
In January of 2019, I spoke to Rob Caruso, Director of the State Ethics Commission. He told me they only handle cases in which money is involved i.e. theft, bribery, etc.”
I don’t think it can be said that Pauline Braccio did not try to pursue justice through proper channels.
The Advocacy Groups
On April 12, 2019, Pauline emailed Jennifer Storm at the State Office of Victim Advocacy:
”Dear Ms. Storm,
A friend referred me to you in reference to the matter of Kenneth E. Lawrence, Jr. He Vice-Chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners. Several years ago this man raped me. I have attached my statement and my addendum to that statement dated February 15, 2019.
Below is the link to Montco Scrap, a blog. The post is dated March 24, 2019, more than six months after I made my statement to the commissioners.
From what I have been told yesterday, by Shapiro’s Director of Constituent Services, Heather, Atty Gen’l Shapiro is not going to address this at all. He has quashed this story so completely that none of the news media will look into it, let alone publish it.
If there is something you can do, please contact me at this email address or phone: 215-XXX-XXXX.
She has never received a response from the Harrisburg Office of Victim Advocacy.
Pauline has met with Erin from Montgomery County Victim Services and plans of continuing to meet with her.
The Political Posers
On October 21, 2018, Pauline contacted Governor Wolf’s office with her allegations. She copied Senator Jake Corman, Represenative Chris Dush, Represenative Mary Jo Daley, and Represenative Pam DeLissio on that correspondence. She received a response from Mike Brunelle from Wolf’s office within minutes:
Pauline has not heard from Wolf’s office since. She followed up with Brunelle (copying the same elected officials as earlier) two days later, but received no response from Wolf’s office, nor any of the other elected officials copied on the email.
Pauline contacted PA Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s office in April 2019, and in response, his office sent the following letter on April 11, punting to the Montgomery County DA’s office:
If the Attorney General was truly interested in “believing” victims and removing the statute of limitations of sexual abuse instead of just posing for photo ops on the Capitol Steps, or filming PSA videos with Alyssa Milano, they would have actually read her complaint and directed her towards Pike County where the crime allegedly occurred. He could have also told her that the statute of limitations had run out and that the Attorney General was personally working with Senator Muth on legislation to remedy that.
But his office did neither and sent her off on a wild goose chase instead.
Apparently, someone eventually realized the jurisdictional error and sent a follow up letter on May 1 directing her to the correct District Attorney in Pike County. One can only wonder why this rookie mistake was made in the first place.
On May 9, Pauline met with a Montgomery County Detective for the sole purpose of clearing up the confusion caused by the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s rookie mistake.
Pauline contacted many State Senators and Representatives who have been vocal about victim justice and have made headlines with their #metoo activism.
Senator Katie Muth, spent most of the month of April posturing on her official Facebook page (see below for an abbreviated sample) on her support of victims, which notably included a bit of false-equivalency Catholic bashing on the day before Easter. This thoughtless and offensive meme, which was posted on her official page, coincidentally echoed an equally offensive, false equivalency Catholic bashing op ed which, the more politically savvy Josh Shapiro (or maybe it was his $65K-per-year Digital Communications Director…?) had the foresight to publish two days after Easter.
Pauline first contacted Senator Muth’s office on April 11. She spoke with “Taina” in Muth’s office, who, upon receiving a copy of this blog post, Pauline says, told her that she was sure Muth would want to talk to her.
Pauline followed up with a phone call the next day, when she says she was told to forward the blog post directly to Muth’s email, which she did.
Finally, on April 24, Pauline got a form letter response from a title-less staffer in Muth’s office, who also apparently has no last name, either:
Once again, Pauline’s compliant was not read and she was punted to the Montgomery County DA’s office instead of Pike County. And like Shapiro’s office, Katie Muth’s office does not mention that the statute of limitations had run out and that Senator Muth was actually in the very process of sponsoring legislation to remedy that.
I guess actually standing up for victims is not quite as rewarding as standing on the Capitol steps with the Attorney General.
On April 23, Senator Tim Kearney’s chief of staff, Sarah McCullough, responded to Pauline. Pauline says McCullough was shocked that Senator Muth had not called her back. McCullough promised to contact their offices on Pauline’s behalf and also asked what Sen. Kearney’s office could do to help her. Pauline responded that she would like to go to Harrisburg to testify on behalf of the legislation to end the statute of limitations.
Pauline received the following response from Senator Maria Collett’s office:
Looking back to the Daylin Leach situation for a little more compare and contrast, on January 25, 2019, The Philadelphia Inquirer ran a scathing indictment of top PA Senate Democrats, revealing that they were aware of the allegations against Senator Daylin Leach months before an investigation was launched:
HARRISBURG — Top Senate Democrats were notified about a sexual assault allegation against Sen. Daylin Leach nearly a year ago but launched a formal investigation only after the woman contacted nearly every senator earlier this month, according to emails obtained by the Inquirer and Daily News and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Cara Taylor, who lives in the Allentown area, wrote in a February 2018 email to Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa (D., Allegheny) that Leach “sexually violated” her nearly 30 years ago, when she was a teenager and Leach was representing her mother in a criminal case. Costa forwarded the information to the chief legal counsel for Senate Democrats, who responded to Taylor that “neither Sen. Costa nor the Senate of Pennsylvania have the authority to review your claims under the Senate’s Workplace Harassment Policy,” according to a copy of the email exchange.
The chief counsel, C.J. Hafner II, noted that the accusations “predate Sen. Leach’s legislative service” and told her she could contact several organizations that offer counseling and referral services.
“I believe they have the experience and resources to assist you,” Hafner wrote.
Earlier this month, Taylor traveled to the Capitol and delivered to nearly every state senator copies of her private criminal complaint against Leach. That is when Senate Democrats decided to hire an outside legal firm to investigate the allegations, which Leach, a Montgomery County Democrat, vigorously denies.
On Thursday night, Costa said he was only “vaguely aware” of the allegations last year. Now that Taylor has submitted a complaint to him and other senators, “members are looking into it and asking questions,” Costa said.
“It’s contrary to where we were before,” he said. “It was not elevated to the point where the alleged victim here was filing a private complaint.”
Top Democrats also know about Pauline Braccio’s complaint against Ken Lawrence. Even if Pauline’s public comments at the September 9, 2018 meeting somehow escaped their attention, Pauline contacted the Montgomery County Democratic Party Chairman, Joe Foster, via email on April 16, 2019. His response: we are not an investigative body:
The people copied on this correspondence are what compromises the Executive Committee of the Montgomery County Democratic Committee. They are also the first seven signers on the letter calling on Daylin Leach to resign. In addition to being officers of the county party, Jason Salus and Jeanne Sorg are also Montgomery County row officers, Treasurer and Recorder of Deeds, respectively. Michael Barbiero is Solicitor to the County controller’s office. Olivia Brady is an at-large member of Norristown Council.
Pauline says she called the Montgomery County Democratic Committee for follow up on May 6 and asked to speak with Joe Foster. She was told that Joe Foster was not in the office. When she asked who the Vice Chairman was, and if she could speak with him, the staffer told her to “look it up on the website,” and then he hung up on her.
On April 11, she contacted Accountability PA, the group who has taken up Cara Taylor’s cause and with whom Senator Katie Muth worked on behalf of Cara Taylor. Pauline sent them her affidavit and asked them to please help her.
She has not received a response.
The Watchdog Media
While pursuing justice through normal channels, and having been told that the statute of limitations had run out, as so many other #metoo victims have, Pauline sought justice through the media. Here is the list of reporters and media organizations Pauline says she contacted with her notarized Affidavit of Statement and a cover letter outlining a timeline of events leading up to her pursuit of justice:
Contacted on September 20, 2018
- Times Herald – Oscar Gamble
- Contacted on October 20, 2018
- Times Herald Cheryl Kehoe
- Associated Press Larry Rosenthal
- Fox News Channel General mail box
- KYW Mr. Wilson
- CBS3 Newsdesk
- NBC Universal Anzio Williams
- Fox 29 Newsdesk Mr. Driscoll
- KYW 1060 info Newstips Mr. Butler
- Whyy Newsroom Eugene Sonn
- Philadelphia Inquirer John Martin
- Philadelphia Daily News David Lee Preston
Contacted on October 21, 2018
- Times Herald Cheryl Kehoe 2nd time with letter sent to other outlets
- PennLive Fran Maye, Jan Murphy
- Philly News John Baer
- Philly News Mark Faziollah (Contacted again on April 12, 2019)
- Times Herald Oscar Gamble
- PJ D’Annunzio alm.com
- The Reporter Tom Celona
- Wallace McKelvey PennLive,
- Z Needles alm.com
- NBC Universal email@example.com
- Bucks County Courier Times Shane Fitzgerald
- City-Suburban News Leslie Swan
- Jewish Exponent Joshua Runyan
- Philadelphia Business Journal Craig Ey
- Philadelphia Jewish Voice Dan Loeb
- Philadelphia Weekly Press Bob Christian
Contacted on October 23, 2018:
- Philadelphia Daily News Maria Panaritis
Contacted on April 12, 2019:
- The Caucus Brad Bumstead
Bumstead called Pauline and spoke with her for 45 minutes, “grilling her pretty hard,” according to Pauline. To date, there has been no story or follow up.
- Philadelphia Magazine Victor Fiorillo
- PennLive John Micek
- Fox News Jeff Cole
- Philly News Angela Couloumbis
Couloumbis forwarded Pauline’s information to Vinny Vella. Vella met with Pauline on May 2.
Pauline’s story has been picked up by another blogger, but she has thus far been thwarted from telling her story in the traditional media. Democrats, who were previously so bold in their stance against Daylin Leach, seem determined to ignore this.
I’m a bit confused. Wasn’t the whole point of the #metoo movement to stop exactly this sort of thing from happening…?
The County has known about these allegations since September of last year; more than enough time to have launched an investigation or created a process by which Pauline could seek a measure of justice and closure.
Instead, Pauline has been, and continues to be, shuffled about, tossed from one organization to another like a hot potato. She’s suffered the worst treatment at the hands of Montgomery County, who has apparently decided to paint her as crazy by treating her as if she is some kind of part-time “threat” to public safety– which is only red-alerted when attendance at a Commissioners’ meeting is anticipated to be high.
The PA Senate apparently has been able to create an apparatus to “investigate” Cara Taylor’s charges against Daylin Leach, but there is no such apparatus available at the local level for the same type of investigation for Pauline Braccio’s allegations.
It’s also worth remembering that the results of that Senate “investigation” have not been made available, yet it did not stop the same local body of Democrats–most of whom refuse to even acknowledge Pauline’s charges—from calling for Leach’s resignation without any proof of wrongdoing.
I don’t think it’s too much to ask for a little consistency on this. If Democrats want to exploit the #metoo movement to earn the loyalty, support, and votes of women and feminists, then they must be consistent in how vicims are treated; the political affiliation or connections of the accused or the accuser should NOT be the deciding factor in how allegations are handled.
Otherwise, the selective pursuit of incidents based on political expediency cheapens the whole movement and endangers past and future victims.
#metoo was supposed to about standing up to powerful abusers, and giving victims the benefit of the doubt, no matter how inconvenient that stand may be.