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Tim Solobay resigns as Pennsylvania fire commissioner over sex harassment allegation

| Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018, 5:36 p.m.
State Sen. Tim Solobay, D-Canonsburg, spoke at the Monessen Veterans Council ceremony honoring the city's surviving World War II veterans at the Herman Mihalich Memorial River Launch on Saturday, July 19, 2014.
Jim Ference | The Valley Independent
State Sen. Tim Solobay, D-Canonsburg, spoke at the Monessen Veterans Council ceremony honoring the city's surviving World War II veterans at the Herman Mihalich Memorial River Launch on Saturday, July 19, 2014.

Washington County's Tim Solobay resigned as Pennsylvania fire commissioner over the weekend after allegations resurfaced that he patted a former staffer on the rear in 2011 when he was a state senator.

A spokesman for Gov. Tom Wolf confirmed the resignation but declined to discuss “specific details of a personnel matter.”

PennLive reported Sunday that Rachel Moore, a former staffer in Solobay's state Senate office, filed a complaint against her boss the day after the alleged slap, which Solobay at the time said never happened. The publication reported that Solobay's resignation came amid recent inquiries from reporters about the incident.

Moore, 31, had managed Solobay's election campaign before beginning work as a staffer, according to PennLive.

Solobay, 61, did not respond to an attempt to reach him Tuesday. Moore, who has moved to the private sector, declined an interview request from the Trib.

In a statement, Wolf spokesman J.J. Abbott said the governor's office “takes all allegations of harassment or inappropriate behavior very seriously. Gov. Wolf has made clear that he draws a firm line, especially when it comes to behavior that is derogatory or discriminatory. “

Brittany Crampsie, a spokeswoman for the state Senate Democratic Caucus, said in a statement that Moore decided against making a formal complaint with the chief clerk's office over the case.

A caucus administrator told Solobay to avoid contact with Moore and “avoid inappropriate contact with anyone else.” Moore was relocated to another position in the caucus the day after reporting the incident and worked for the caucus for six more years, Crampsie said.

There were no more complaints about the senator, according to Crampsie.

She said the caucus updated its process for handling workplace harassment allegations earlier this month. Now all claims are referred directly to the chief clerk and outside counsel for investigation, she said. Starting this month, all Senate Democrats and their staffers will undergo mandatory workplace harassment training, and the training will be held annually, she said.

Wes Venteicher is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-380-5676, or via Twitter @wesventeicher.

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