Former State Rep. will not face sexual assault charges, grand jury recommends policy changes at Pennsylvania state Capitol

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Former State Representative Brian Ellis will not face charges for sexual assault allegations brought against him last year. A Dauphin County Grand Jury however, is recommending changes to the way sexual misconduct allegations are dealt with at the capitol.

A Dauphin County Grand Jury report found policies concerning sexual harassment at the State Capitol are confusing, inadequate, and lack transparency.

"The pervasive culture of boys will be boys, locker room behavior in Harrisburg is toxic," said Shea Rhodes, Villanova Law Institute to Address Commercial Sexual Exploitation.

The grand jury report without naming Ellis appears to use the details of the sexual misconduct allegations he faced as a way to recommend 10 ways the Pennsylvania General Assembly can increase accountability when a member is facing these types of allegations.

While this outcome is not what the victim in this case was hoping for, Pennsylvania's Victim Advocate Jennifer Storm says, it's a step in the right direction.

"If these recommendations, if even one, gets adopted," said Storm. "The future lives of women and potential victims will be impacted in a positive way as a result of her bravery."

Some of the recommendations include the creation of an independent Office of Legislative Responsibility that would be responsible to investigate any claim of misconduct against lawmakers or their staff.  It would have the authority to obtain documents through subpoenas, determine if further investigation is required, and refer the case to law enforcement if the allegation is criminal.

"It is time that we create environments where protection of people win out over power and positions," said Storm.

The entire grand jury report can be found here.

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