A formal complaint detailing allegations of sexual assault against Republican State Representative Brian Ellis was filed with Republican members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives on Tuesday.
UPDATE: March 18th: Ellis resigns six days after complaint filed. See below.
The complaint urges House Republicans to rid itself of “a member who is not deserving of the public’s trust.”
Accuser of Brian Ellis believed she was “raped”
Addressed to an attorney who works for the House Republican caucus and its members on the Ethics Committee, the five page complaint from an unnamed woman alleges she was assaulted by Ellis after sharing less than two drinks with him at a Harrisburg bar in 2015.
“I have scant memories of the next 10 hours, and was in a state of blackout,” she wrote in the complaint, as reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I woke up in pain, injured and naked, the next morning in the bed of Rep. Brian Ellis.”
“I was slow in processing information,” the account continues, “and I actually thought maybe I had been hit by a car or sustained a serious injury to my head, given my state of disorientation. Before that morning, I had never experienced any type of cognitive or mental deficits like this.”
The complaint says that when she confronted Ellis. he said, “We had sex.” She alleges Ellis told her he had always known they would.
According to the woman, she “believed I was raped,” and later went to a local hospital for treatment. She said she was also later diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Ellis’ attorneys, from the firm of Myers, Brier & Kelly LLP, issued a statement denying the allegations made in the complaint, saying it was an attempt “to generate sensational press coverage.”
“The accuser’s latest self-serving repackaging of the 2015 allegations are just plain false,” the statement said.
Previous investigation and calls for resignation
The assault allegations first emerged on January 24th, when Dauphin County District Attorney began investigating claims that Ellis had sex with a woman without her consent while she was incapacitated.
After the GOP initially issued a statement expressing “zero tolerance” for sexual assault, but without mentioned Ellis by name, Republican leaders began to openly call for his resignation by the next day.
“We’ve said zero tolerance, and upon further discussion of the allegations…the leaders believe it’s in the best interest of Rep. Ellis that he resign in order to fully address the allegations,” explained GOP spokesperson Mike Straub.
On the same day, Governor Tom Wolfe called for both Ellis and Daylin Leach, a Democratic member of the State Senate also facing allegations of sexual assault, to resign. Both men remain in office.
Ellis has disappeared from public view, however. He has not returned to Harrisburg for a vote since the original allegations appeared in the media on January 24th. According to his local newspaper, the Butler Eagle, staff in both his Harrisburg and constituency office have not seen him either.
Ellis’ continued absence is now generating its own controversy, distinct from the allegations of sexual assault.
Writing on Twitter, Patriot-News reporter Jan Murphy wrote: “Rep. Brian Ellis hasn’t been seen on the floor in Harrisburg since Jan. 1 and is reported to have been a no-show at his Capitol and district office since Jan. 24. But he continues to collect his nearly $7,400 monthly paycheck.”
UPDATE March 18th 2019: Brian Ellis resigns
Six days after a formal complaint was filed with Pennsylvania House Republicans, Representative Ellis has formally resigned his seat.
In a short letter written to the Speaker, Ellis said, “It is with immense gratitude to the sacrifices made by my family, the support of my constituents, and the friendship of my colleagues that I have concluded that it is in the best interests of my family, the residents of the 11th House District, and my own health that I resign from the General Assembly.”
Pennsylvania State Victims Advocate Jennifer Storm, who has been acting as a spokesperson for the unnamed woman who has accused Ellis of sexual assault, is pleased that in this instance the alleged victim has been listened to:
“We finally saw a survivor come forward, and she was believed, and treated with dignity and respect by the House — and we are seeing a real-life consequence to that. In cases involving allegations against public officials, unfortunately, the M.O. has just been to kind of ride it out. That didn’t happen here.”